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Palliative Care

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

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 end-of-life issues.

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 including:

  • Advanced cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Kidney failure (end-stage renal disease)
  • Dementia
  • 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 individual/family counseling
  • 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: PalCare@whhs.com

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