Palliative Care Enhances Quality of Life

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When it comes to managing the symptoms associated with serious illnesses such as cancer, heart failure, or COPD, consulting with a palliative care specialist can be a valuable step in assuring you get the care you desire.

The term palliative care is often confused with hospice care near the end of life. It is true that hospice care is a subset of palliative care. However, palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness and ideally is introduced early in the course of treatment when important decisions are being made and the burden of symptoms may be high.

The goal of palliative care is to help patients with serious illnesses feel better. We listen to patients and help them explore which options are best for them based on their personal needs and goals. We help people with any physical, emotional and psychological suffering so they can experience the best possible quality of life, no matter how much time they have to live. This extra layer of support to patients and families is of great benefit.

Palliative care providers are specialists in managing symptoms such as pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, anxiety, bowel issues and sleeplessness. The palliative care team works closely with a patient’s other doctors to help coordinate care and improve communication.

At Partners In Care, our palliative care team takes its commitment to palliative care services in our community seriously. We recently received over $150,000 in grants from the Oregon Community Foundation, PacificSource Health Plans, and Central Oregon Independent Practice Association (COIPA). This kind of support helped to launch our successful outpatient palliative care service in Central Oregon.

In March, I will be presenting our model of care and outcome results at the Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) in Chicago. The sharing of our expertise in palliative medicine with others in the field serves to advance the specialty and improve patient care. We are honored to be recognized as a national leader in
this respect.

Consultations are currently conducted primarily in our palliative care clinic at Bend Memorial Clinic in Bend, but also in patients’ homes and residential care facilities. This spring we plan to expand our service and offer clinic appointments in Redmond as well.

To learn more about palliative care and Partners In Care, visit partnersbend.org or call 541-382-5882.

Jennifer Blechman, MD is a hospice and palliative care physician working at Partners in Care, Central Oregon’s only independent, non-hospital based hospice and home health organization.

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