We answer your questions about palliative care.
If you don’t find an answer to your question here, don’t hesitate to call us or send an e-mail.
How does palliative care differ from hospice?
The primary difference between hospice and palliative care is that hospice care is provided during the last months of life. Palliative care can begin at any stage of a serious, life-altering illness—at the time of diagnosis is best—to help you live with your illness, manage side effects of aggressive, curative treatment, and find ways to handle the day-to-day challenges. Palliative care can help shift the medical approach from crisis intervention to crisis prevention, for example, good symptom management that helps avoid an emergency hospitalization.
Who brings in the palliative medicine specialist?
Your primary care physicians can request a “consultation in palliative care” much as he or she would request a consultation from other specialists, such as a surgeon, neurologist or infectious disease specialist. Physicians often use consultations with medical colleagues to enhance their ability to care for their patients. Your physician’s office can call us any time (24/7) to ask that a palliative medicine specialist see you while you are in the hospital, where you live or at our office in Glenview.
What is the best time to request a palliative care consultation?
Consultations in palliative care are provided at any stage of a serious illness or diagnosis. Palliative care is appropriate from the time of receiving a diagnosis, and ideally, spans a period of months to years. Palliative care can be delivered alongside treatments that are meant to cure your disease or help you recover, such as chemotherapy, radiation, medication or aerosol therapies. Supporting you and your family—regardless of the stage of the illness or treatment—can more effectively allow you to live well, whatever the diagnosis.
Is a palliative care consultation only for a cancer diagnosis?
If you face a complex, serious health issue, you can benefit from a palliative care consultation. This means that palliative care can help you whether you expect full recovery, experience progressive loss of functioning (e.g., aging or a chronic condition), or have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Patients we work with have a variety of serious medical conditions, such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney failure, Alzheimer's, cardiac disease, like congestive heart failure (CHF), or HIV/AIDS.
What can I expect from palliative care services?
The goal of palliative care is to enhance your quality of life as you face a serious and potentially life-limiting illness. Using an interdisciplinary team approach, it is designed to provide relief from pain and discomfort, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. A consultation with palliative medicine specialists will help you:
- Clarify your goals for care,
- Make medical decisions and choose treatment that will align with your goals,
- Determine how to increase your comfort level (e.g., medication to prevent or treat pain; what you can do to reduce nausea or fatigue), and
- Connect with any support services you need for emotional and spiritual concerns.
How do the palliative medicine specialists work with my own physician and other healthcare professionals who are caring for me?
Our team of specialists will work closely with your physicians and other healthcare professionals to identify care options that will improve your quality of life. After your initial consultation, we discuss our recommendations with your healthcare providers and help to coordinate your care. We communicate regularly with your physicians to avoid a disorganized approach to your care, especially when you change locations, like returning home from a hospital stay.
Who pays for a palliative care consultation?
Our Palliative Care Services program is a clinical consultation service that works with your physicians to manage and enhance your medical care. Therefore, Medicare and Medicaid cover the consultative services of our palliative medicine specialists. Coverage through private insurance varies, but we can work with you to explain and evaluate payment options. If you do not have insurance or the ability to pay for services, Midwest CareCenter will waive or reduce fees.