Palliative care is a medical subspecialty devoted to providing the support
patients and their families need when living with a chronic disease, serious
or life-threatening illness.
Palliative care focuses on the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs
to assure comfort, dignity, and quality of life. This type of care is
appropriate while getting medical treatments, at any age and at any stage
of a disease. It is best if introduced early in a patient’s care
and provided in conjunction with other medical treatment aimed to treat
a condition or disease. Palliative care is provided by a specially trained
multidisciplinary team of professionals.
The Washington Hospital Palliative Care Team
Our palliative care service is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, social
workers, a nurse practitioner, the Spiritual Care coordinator, the Palliative
Care coordinator and other specialists. This team works together with
a patient's existing physicians to develop a plan of care that best
fits the ongoing needs of every patient and family.
Each patient is individually assessed to determine which palliative care
team specialty the patient and family will benefit from the most. Regardless
of the discipline, every member of the team utilizes his or her own expertise
in order to help patients get the care they deserve.
Palliative Care versus Hospice Care
Palliative care is not the same as hospice care.
Hospice is for people in their final weeks or months of life. The purpose
is to improve quality of life during that time, manage symptoms, and address
Who Could Benefit from Palliative Care Services?
The palliative care service is an option for Washington Hospital patients
dealing with serious medical diagnoses or facing complex medical decisions
- Advanced cancer
- Congestive heart failure
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Kidney failure (end-stage renal disease)
- And many more chronic illnesses
Primary Care Physician Role
The primary care physician will continue to provide patient care and will
be in charge of medical care. The Palliative Care Team will work with
the physician(s) to ensure the best possible care.
The Palliative Care Team Can Help
Working closely with your primary medical team of doctors, the Palliative
Care Team provides an extra layer of support:
- Assist in addressing complex symptoms
- Help identify goals of care by devoting time for family meetings and/or
- Assist with understanding medical conditions, ensuring choices for medical
care match the patient’s goals and values
- Help anticipate and plan next steps as disease progresses
- Provide guidance with difficult treatment choices
- Assist with heath care coordination, navigating the health care system
to improve the ability to carry on with your daily life
- Provide psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual support for you and your family
How to Get Palliative Care
To begin palliative care, please ask your physician for a referral. The
Washington Hospital Palliative Care Team can offer support to patients
and their families 365 days a year, both during their stay and following
discharge. You may contact your Washington Hospital Palliative Care Team
during regular business hours.
Phone: (510) 818-5433 or email: