By Julie Carr, APRN – Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner
Have you heard about palliative care? Are you wondering what palliative care really is? The Community Palliative Care program has been part of Community Hospice and Palliative Care for nearly three years. Community Hospice and Palliative Care is two different teams working together to provide the best care for all our patients.
Palliative care is often confused with hospice care, but it is quite different on various levels. Hospice care is more centered on end-of-life care. Palliative care is a holistic, symptom-based model of care that allows the patient to explore all their options including curative treatment. Palliative care focuses on relieving stress from a serious or chronic illness and managing symptoms that arise from that illness. The overall goal is to improve the quality of life, both for the patient and the family.
Our palliative care nurse practitioners specialize in treating people suffering from the symptoms of a serious illness such as cancer, congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney disease, Alzheimer’s or dementia, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and many others. Symptoms may include depression, shortness of breath, pain, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, or others. Overall, the patients who benefit from palliative care may have many symptoms caused by their disease. In addition, the patient must need an abundance of assistance to leave their home for necessary trips such as medical appointments.
Working with your doctors, you and your family, our palliative care nurse practitioners build a partnership to meet all your medical needs. Communication is the key ingredient to making the palliative care partnership a success. The palliative care team spends a significant amount of time communicating with various medical professionals, family members, and you. We strive to allow the patient to control the dynamics of their care. One of the greatest benefits of palliative care is the time and dedication we spend with the patient exploring treatment options for their medical conditions. Often, this level of care is provided in your home.
Palliative care services are billed under your Medicare Part B benefits. Typically, these services are covered with very little or no out-of-pocket expense for you. In addition, you may continue any home health or other communitybased services, along with palliative care. Your palliative care visits at home are designed to meet your specific plan of care. For example, if you were recently in the hospital, the palliative care nurse practitioner can visit more frequently to ensure a smooth transition back home. Likewise, if you develop new symptoms, we are able to add additional visits to your home to address these new concerns. On the opposite side, if the patient gains strength and is improving, the team will decrease their visits over time.
Anyone, including the patient, can make a referral to palliative care. A physician’s order is not required. Community Hospice and Palliative Care serves nine counties in eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio – Boyd, Greenup, Carter, Elliott, Lawrence, Martin and Johnson counties in Kentucky, along with Lawrence and Scioto counties, Ohio. If you have questions or would like more information, please call our palliative care team at 606-329-1890 or 800-926-6184.
606-329-1890 or 800-926-6184.