Palliative Care: Managing Symptoms. Alleviating Pain. Offering Support.
Comprehensive Inpatient and Outpatient Programs (Valley Health System)
Palliative care enhances medical treatment to help patients with serious, chronic or incurable illness experience the highest quality of life possible. Valley Health System’s Inpatient and Outpatient Palliative Care Programs combine the expertise and services of The Valley Hospital, Valley home Care and Valley Medical Group to support patients with serious illnesses and their families.
What is Palliative Care?
Living with a serious, chronic or incurable illness presents challenges for patients and their families. Palliative care is an option for patients who are seeking to supplement their medical treatment with a care plan designed to enhance their quality of life. The main goals of palliative care are comfort, support and easing the burden of illness on both patients and their families. Patients who can benefit from palliative care include those living with:
*congestive heart failure (CHF)
*Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
*Neurological disorders (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s)
*Patients with other serious illnesses.
Valley’s palliative care services take an integrative team approach to care, focusing on preventing or relieving pain and other physical, emotional or spiritual distress that can accompany serious illness. Palliative care brings together a range of resources and is designed to work in partnership with each patient’s primary care physician to ensure comprehensive, coordinated care that is culturally diverse and sensitive to patients’ personal beliefs. Valley’s palliative care team helps patients and families:
*Make medical decisions
*Choose the best treatment options
*Plan care that reflects the patients goals, values and preferences
*Receive reliable information and
*Manage distressing symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, delirium, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression and difficulty sleeping.
When can someone receive Palliative Care?
Palliative care can be provided at any time during a chronic illness. Patients can receive palliative care while still recovering treatment for any long term progressive disease. Accessing palliative care as early as possible can help patients avoid, reduce or better prepare for difficulties that may result from the illness or treatment aimed at curing, reversing or slowing the condition.
Palliative care can help patients regain strength to carry on with their daily lives, avoid stressful trips to the hospital, exert control over their care and improve their ability to tolerate medical treatments. Palliative care can help patients and their families better understand their illness and treatment choices and assist them in making decisions about what type of treatment they would prefer in the future.
What other benefits does Palliative Care Offer?
Research has shown that palliative care services can improve quality of life and even extend the lives of patients. Palliative care increases patient satisfaction; decrease anxiety, depression and caregiver stress and reduces hospital emergency room visits, re-admission to the hospital and healthcare costs.
What Palliative Care Services does Valley Provide?
For many years, Valley’s Inpatient Palliative Care Program has provided services to patients during their hospital stay. To better serve patients and families, Valley is proud to introduce an Outpatient Palliative Care Program that will coordinate and deliver services on an outpatient basis.
Patients who receive palliative care while they are hospitalized can transition smoothly to the Outpatient Palliative Care Program. However, patients who have not been hospitalized for their illness can begin receiving outpatient services from the Outpatient Palliative Care Program any time after referral from their physician or other provider.
Each patient’s unique palliative care plan is designed to optimize quality of life and provide comfort and support for both patients and their families. Services are delivered by advanced practice nurses. They include:
*Pain and symptom management to achieve maximum patient comfort
*Treatments to maintain and improve patient’s ability to perform the tasks of daily living.
*Emotional and spiritual support for patients and their caregivers.
*Care coordination assistance.
*Assistance with life planning and decisions if appropriate such as advanced directives, living wills, power of attorney and other documents, including Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) and
*Help with transitioning to hospice if appropriate.
Who is the Palliative Care Team?
The Valley palliative care team is a group of experienced professionals, each of whom assists patients in his or her unique way. Not everyone will see every member of the team but there is a large, knowledgeable group available:
*Advanced practice nurses
*Physicians who are board-certified in palliative care and other specialties
*Patient and Family Relations nurses
The Inpatient Palliative Care Program:
The Inpatient Palliative Care Program is overseen by Valley’s Medical Director or Palliative Medicine. Services are delivered by advanced practice nurses and a social worker who work exclusively with palliative care patients. Inpatients who meet certain criteria are referred automatically for a palliative care consultation. However, any patient or family member may request a consultation by asking their physician or nurse.
The Outpatient Palliative Care Program:
The Outpatient Palliative Care Program strengthens the continuum of services provided by The Valley Hospital, Valley Home Care and Valley Medical Group. The outpatient program transitions former inpatients to outpatient services in addition to serving as an entry point into palliative care for those patients with chronic, progressive medical problems such as CHE, COPD and cancer. The program is overseen by Valley’s Outpatient Medical Director of Palliative Medicine.
At Valley’s Luckow Pavillion in Paramus, outpatient services are delivered by a physician and/or advanced practice nurse in collaboration with a social worker, pharmacist and when appropriate, a chaplain, who are trained to help palliative care patients. Some patients who are receiving ongoing outpatient treatment at Valley will be automatically referred for a palliative care consultant. However, any patient or family member who is considering outpatient palliative care can ask their physician for a referral to the program or may call 201-634-5699 directly to request a consultation.
In addition, Valley home Care offers palliative care services to patients directly in their homes. For more information, please call 201-634-5699.
Talking about Palliative Care:
Before you meet with your palliative care team members, you might want to think carefully about the following information that you would like to communicate to your doctor, nurse or other healthcare provider:
*Progressive of your illness and possible symptoms and side effects of medical treatment.
*What you desire for your quality of life.
*Your cultural, religious or personal beliefs, which might affect the treatment and palliative care decisions that you make.
*What treatments you might or might not want (CRP, ventilator, feeding tube, dialysis, etc.)
*Any advance directives you are considering or have already made (living will, power of attorney, healthcare proxy, POLST etc.).
You may also want to consider some of these questions for your team members. Be sure to write down other question you might have or concerns of yours or your caregivers so they can be addressed.
*What services are available to me and my family and/or caregivers?
*Who is on my team?
*Where will I receive services?
*What decisions do I need to make right away? Which others can be made gradually?
*Can you help explain my treatment?
*What options are available to me as my illness progresses?
*Can you help me plan and write advance directives?
*How will I receive palliative care if I am hospitalized?
*How will I receive palliative care when I am discharged?
*How will I contact the team members?
Valley Health System’s palliative care team recommends the following resources for those interested in learning more about palliative care:
Valley Health System Palliative Care Programs:
Inpatient Program: (201) 447-8413
Inpatient Palliative Care social worker: (201) 447-8000 ext. 2479
Outpatient Program: (201) 634–5699
The Valley Hospital Consumer Health Services
(free information and literature searches from the hospital library)
Center to Advance Palliative Care
Institute of Medicine
Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment
Valley Hospital System Palliative Care
223 North Van Diem Avenue
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Valley Health Care pamphlet and I give them full credit for the information. Please call the above numbers or email them for more information.