In the case of chronic illness, the Palliative Care Team at El Camino Hospital is available to provide an extra layer of support when coping with the diagnosis and treatment of chronic and serious illness, which often have a long-term prognosis. The goal of Palliative Care is to provide specialized medical care while improving the quality of life for both the patient and the family.
This type of care treats pain, depression, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and any other symptoms that may be causing distress. The program is designed to offer symptom management options and adhere to his or her goals and wishes regarding care. Under the direction of Channin Daugherty, Registered Nurse and Palliative Care Manager, the Palliative Care team at El Camino Hospital works together to wrap resources around the patient and identify what is causing return visits to the hospital and ways to help better manage the patient’s care needs in order to prevent repeat visits.
Palliative care can be helpful for patients suffering with cancer, COPD, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, Parkinson’s, ALS, and many more. Sometimes palliative care is brought in toward the end of life and other times it is not. Palliative Care is different than hospice care, which is provided most often in a patient’s home setting and at a time when the patient is nearing what is believed to be their last six months of life.
Patients who receive palliative care early in their illness have fewer symptoms, can participate in treatment for longer periods of time, and have better outcomes. Palliative care can be initiated while the patient is still in the hospital or can begin immediately after being discharged.
The skilled palliative care professionals at El Camino Hospital work together to help patients better understand their illness; navigate through care options and treatments so they can to make decisions that are best for their individual situations.
“It can take multiple conversations between the patient and their family to help them gain a better understanding of whatever illness they are dealing with, where they are with their illness and how the person wants to be cared for. We put the patient in control of these decisions and work as a team to align the care we are providing with the patient’s goals. Their goals and wishes often change over time, so the conversation is constant and we are always working to support people in a very individualized way,” explains Daugherty.
“We must be able to establish rapport quickly with each patient and I feel blessed that I can spend time connecting with that person to help them through their journey. We all work together as a team to make sure the person is comfortable and we are always communicating with other care teams at the hospital to consult about issues and support the patient. We recognize that there is much more to this person’s history than their illness and we may not be seeing them in their normal state. The interactions we have with them are just a snapshot of their life,” says Daugherty.
This article first appeared in the November 2017 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.