Caring for a seriously ill family member can take a tremendous toll. But you don’t have to go it alone. In addition to receiving world-class medical care, patients and families will find help for managing complex and serious sickness with Northwell Health’s advanced illness services.
Patients with an advanced illness or a crisis in care can experience less pain and more comfort with palliative medicine services.
“When people hear ‘palliative,’ they often think it means that someone is at the end of his or her life, but that isn’t true,” said Michael Gitman, MD, medical director at North Shore University Hospital. “Rather, palliative care accompanies our traditional treatment. It doesn’t replace it.”
Palliative care requires a team of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and others who specialize in symptom management and communication, according to Tara Liberman, DO, director of clinical operations for geriatric and palliative medicine. “Together, we assess each patient, then discuss treatment goals with the family — and if possible, the patient — to determine how to care for the patient best. We relieve patients’ and family members’ suffering and enhance their quality of life while managing a serious illness.”
Enhancing Quality of Life
While dealing with a family health crisis, patients and their loved ones often don’t know where to find help to manage an advanced illness.
“Our clinicians speak with patients and families to understand their treatment goals,” Dr. Gitman said. “Some patients may want aggressive treatment for a long period of time, whereas others prefer to focus on symptom management. We offer services to honor the choices of each patient.”
For example, the new Emergency Department-to-Hospice Program identifies patients with advanced illness who frequently enter the hospital for emergency care.
“We want to provide the right care at the right place at the right time. So we speak with patients and family members to understand what care they want or need,” said Richard Schwarz, MD, medical director at LIJ Medical Center. “If the patient and family want to focus on comfort and support for end-of-life care, we offer hospice care within the hospital or at home.”
“Hospice care provides nursing, social work and chaplaincy services for patients who may have six months or less to live, and insurance companies -- including Medicare -- cover it,” according to Dr. Liberman. Northwell’s Hospice Care Network serves individuals at home or in hospice inpatient settings across the region.
The Emergency Department-to-Hospice Program has been a boon for families and patients at the end of life, Dr. Schwarz said. He added: “Those who’ve experienced it feel that they and their loved one were cared for and supported.”
On Your Side: Whether patients and families need palliative care through a difficult diagnosis and recovery or hospice care for a dignified end-of-life experience, Northwell Health makes advanced illness services accessible. Learn more at 718-470-7270.
Find more news about health, wellness, medical discoveries and community programs from LIJ Medical Center and North Shore University Hospital in Vitality magazine.