Palliative Care

About the Division of Palliative Care and Geriatric Medicine

Our interprofessional team of medical, nursing, pharmacy, and social work specialists seeks to improve the quality of care and life of seriously ill patients and their families at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.

We provide comprehensive palliative care services to patients, both in the hospital and at outpatient clinics, focusing on relief from the symptoms and stresses of serious illnesses, including cancer, heart and lung diseases, and dementia.

Our team-based care approach reflects the vision developed by Dr. Frank Lahey in creating the Lahey Clinic almost 100 years ago. Through our teaching and academic efforts, we also work with our colleagues to promote their palliative care skills.

We appreciate your interest in our work. Please contact us with any questions about our services. For more information regarding our academic training program, visit the Palliative Care Fellowship page.

Gary Winzelberg, MD MPH FACP
Division Chair, Palliative Care and Geriatric Medicine

In This Section

Learn More About Palliative Care

Palliative Care & the Family

We recognize that it requires a lot of time and energy to care for someone else. The Palliative Care Service provides help and support to families, friends and caregivers by assisting with multiple issues:

  • Expressing feelings and concerns
  • Asking questions of the health care team
  • Decision-making processes
  • Identifying personal care needs
  • Using available resources for skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation facilities or home care services

The Palliative Care Service also educates family members about health-related problems you may face in the future, and assists in coordinating necessary services. The team is available to help family members learn how to talk to their loved ones, know what to say, and how to listen. They also help family members deal with their own feelings of guilt, anger and grief.

Patient & Family Resources

Helpful Links and Resources

Palliative Care Web Sites
Advance Care Planning

Support Groups

Oftentimes, patients and families involved with palliative care will need additional support from others who have had similar experiences. Lahey Hospital & Medical Center offers more than 20 support groups to help patients and their loved ones. Groups such as the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group, the Bereavement Support Group, and the Brain Tumor Support Group, among others, meet regularly and can bring comfort and strength to those who need it.

For more information, please refer to the Support Groups page or the Lahey Event Calendar, or call 781-744-8790.

Honoring Choices

Honoring Choices provides a simple, structured approach to health care planning. Consumers and health care providers use the same tools kits & discussion guides to talk about a person’s care goals, values and choices.

You can download planning kits, discussion guides and other material to help you and your family make decisions about your care wishes. Your plan is your road map that helps your family and health care providers match the best possible care to your values & choices.

Advanced Directives

Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s Palliative Care Service patients often have to make decisions about advance care goals, and in some cases, end-of-life care before more serious medical problems or conditions occur. Advance directives are legal instructions about the types of medical care you would want to receive in the event of a terminal illness, coma or brain damage. The directions may be oral or written, and various states have different rules, but the most common advance directives are CPR directives, durable power of attorney for health care (DPOAHC), a living will and organ donation.

Advance directives are important because without them, family members may be unaware of, or may misinterpret, your wishes regarding your care. It is recommended that you write down what you want to prevent confusion in managing your care and ensure your concerns are respected. While there are many different regulations and forms that must be dealt with when making these decisions, the overviews below can give you a general idea of why and how these advance directives are important.

  • CPR directives allow you the right to refuse resuscitation if you are incapacitated. Health care facilities will attempt to revive a patient unless there are specific orders to the contrary.
  • A durable power of attorney for health care (DPOAHC) is a legal document that allows you to select someone to make medical decisions for you. This representative can be helpful when your medical team and loved ones have difficulty deciding how to treat you. This person should be someone trusted to follow your instructions exactly as written in your DPOAHC.
  • A living will describes the type of care you do or do not want when you are still alive but nearing death. Living wills can help your doctors and loved ones know more about what you want when it comes to your health care. These directives are a record of the care you would want but may be unable to choose for yourself due to a terminal illness or injury.
  • Organ donation may become an issue if you are classified as legally brain dead. In that situation, you may or may not want your organs and tissues donated for use in transplants. Various states have different rules or forms regarding organ donor declarations. Make sure to include your wishes in your living will and inform your health care agent whether or not you want to be an organ donor.

Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that these types of decisions should be made now. Discuss what you want with your family and doctors, write it down, and make it legal. It might not always be easy to talk about, but planning your future health care can help spare you and your loved ones further difficulties in the future.

Supporting Our Work

Support Palliative Care

Many of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s programs are dependent on the generous contributions of donors with a shared commitment to our mission. Lahey’s Palliative Care Service is one of them. Through charitable giving, our efforts to provide care and support for those patients and family members confronting serious medical issues are greatly enhanced.

For information on how to support the Palliative Care Service, please email Patricia Newton or call 781-744-3928. To learn more about Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s donor programs, you can visit our Philanthropy website, call 781-744-3333 or submit an email.

Palliative Care Volunteers

Volunteers in the Palliative Care Service help us in our effort to improve the lives of patients who are enduring the difficulties of serious, life-threatening illnesses. Palliative care volunteers provide support to patients and families during difficult and challenging times, and the joy and relief they can bring is an important part of the care we provide.

For additional information on Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s volunteer programs, visit our Volunteer & Community Services Web site, call 781-744-8803 or email.