PruittHealth in Anderson, South Carolina, recently an item to its list of personal health care services – palliative care, which is similar to hospice care in that it involves treatment of uncomfortable symptoms of a life-threatening condition. However, unlike hospice, where medical treatment is cancelled because death is imminent – probably within six months – palliative care is offered to people undergoing medical treatment with an expectation of recovery.
Patients may be idea candidates for post-acute services if they are dealing with heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or similar serious health issues. Treatment is focused on providing relief from the unpleasant symptoms of these conditions. PruittHealth offers these services in the patient’s home, at a hospital, in a nursing home or an assisted facility or even at a dialysis or cancer clinic.
For Lynn Brooks, LMSW, the administrator of PruittHealth Hospice and Palliative Care, “Palliative care is valuable because it offers the extra attention that both the patient and the family not only benefit from but also deserve. We like to think of our palliative care as the new 24/7 care management to help get patients back to a higher level of comfort. Our integrated care model is designed to manage and alleviate pain and/or symptoms.”
“Palliative care not only helps the patients and their doctors, but it also helps family members,” she added. “PruittHealth provides access to a social worker to assist with navigating the next steps in their loved one’s health care journey and a 24-hour nurse line to help triage any questions or concerns.”
Typically, a referral for palliative care is made by the patient’s primary care physician or specialist. Although referrals can be helpful at any stage, they are most effective when provided soon after the diagnosis of a serious illness has been established. In lieu of a specific diagnosis, a doctor may also refer an older person who is simply experiencing general discomfort or a disability.
The palliative care team typically includes a combination of palliative-care physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, nutritionists, a social worker and a chaplain. At PruittHealth, the nurse practitioner assists with medication management, symptom control and after-hours needs that might arise in a home setting. An assigned social worker also helps mobilize any resources that might be beneficial, as well as connect the patient with a chaplain for spiritual support, if desired.
PruittHealth’s program is carefully designed to follow senior patients through their life journey from palliative care to home-health or long-term care to eventual hospice care, if that is the patient’s or family’s wish. In addition to alleviating painful symptoms, whenever possible, the team helps patients understand the choices ahead and the best way to improve their quality of life.
In addition to comfort care, this health care organization also offers patient and family support and education, bereavement services and respite care. With over 50 years of service, 24,000 patients and 180 locations in the Southeast, PruittHealth is ready to help you or your loved one when life gets difficult and pain is stealing the joy from your journey.
For more information, call 864-226-1219 or visit pruitthealth.com.
By Janet E. Perrigo