Lahey Clinic's Palliative Care Service provides understanding and compassion for patients with advanced illnesses and their loved ones, with the goal of relieving suffering and improving quality of life. Lahey Clinic developed this Palliative Care Service in an effort to enhance patient care and assist physicians who manage patients with chronic disease. The main purpose of Lahey's Palliative Care Service is to help hospitalized patients currently undergoing treatment for a significant illness or group of illnesses. The service consists of a proactive multidisciplinary team that provides cohesive support and care for patients by recommending treatment for managing symptoms and helping with issues such as pain control, anxiety, depression and fatigue. A physician specializing in palliative medicine and other members of the service will assess a patient's needs at the time of referral. The Palliative Care Service includes a physician, an advanced practice nurse, a pharmacist and a social worker. If needed, changes in future goals of care are addressed. The team places particular focus on patients experiencing problems or side effects from serious, life-threatening medical conditions and their treatments, while also offering support for their loved ones. The Palliative Care team is actively involved in educating both you and your family, which helps create a dialogue about the goals of treatment very early on. The team's role is to create realistic expectations about your likely outcome and level of function. This way, you and your family will find comfort in better understanding your illness and the long-term goals of treatment.
Any hospitalized patient with illnesses such as cancer, heart failure, HIV, emphysema, Alzheimer's disease or dementia is eligible for palliative care upon referral from his or her primary or treating physician. At the time of referral, a physician specializing in palliative medicine will assess the patient's needs. The palliative care physician or other member of the team will communicate with the patient's primary physician to provide a coordinated approach to the patient's needs. Your physician may call the Palliative Care Service to become involved at any stage of your hospitalization. The service may be involved when you are first told about a serious illness. Depending on your needs, a team member can be involved for a short time or as a part of long-term care. The team members may also be called upon when you are nearing the end of life.