Palliative Care – a relatively new type of care for patients and families confronting serious, progressive illnesses – is now expanding to include outpatients at Agnesian HealthCare. It has already been offered to inpatients at St. Agnes Hospital and Waupun Memorial Hospital.
Though it is sometimes confused with end-of-life hospice care, palliative care reaches out to help patients who may or may not ever need the services of hospice. It should begin at the onset of a serious illness, and offers significant benefits to patients and families through the long-term hurdles they will face.
Palliative care is about preventing and relieving the physical, psychosocial, emotional and spiritual suffering of the patient and family, and can be offered in conjunction with curative or life-prolonging treatments. In contrast, hospice care seeks to make the patient comfortable physically and as healthy as possible spiritually and emotionally during the final months of life.
“We are very excited and proud to be able to offer this new service to the community,” says Andrew Land, director of Agnesian HealthCare Hospice Hope and Palliative Care Services. “This is a significant step for Agnesian HealthCare to start this very important program. Our mission is to provide coordinated, comprehensive, patient-centered care across all care settings, and we are very pleased to be able to offer these services free of charge to patients as part of Agnesian HealthCare’s mission.”
A multidisciplinary team works individually with each patient and family to truly understand the patient’s goals, and then work collaboratively to ensure maximum comfort and quality of life. Team members include: Punit Kumar, MD, medical director; Lori Wendt, nurse practitioner; Sara Schierenbeck, registered nurse; Deb Toth, social worker; and Spiritual Care Services.
“A growing body of research shows that people who get palliative care live longer, have better symptom control and are more satisfied with their care,” Land says. “We are very confident that our services will achieve similar results here.”
Specific services may vary based on individual patient’s situation and goals. Based on what is most important to each person, a unique care plan is constructed using all available resources. “The team offers comprehensive, coordinated, patient-centered care to help meet these goals,” according to Land.
“This may include engaging and collaborating with a variety of other health professionals and community resources, such as the primary physician, medical specialists, supportive care services, home care, pharmacists, nutritional experts, etc., as needed,” Land adds. “By offering Palliative Care services, we are able reach patients much earlier in their illnesses, even from the time of diagnosis, lending a helping hand to patients and families living with serious illnesses when it is most needed.”
To learn more, call (920) 923-7950.