610-378-2000 610-378-2000

About Palliative Care

Palliative Care (pal-lee-uh-tiv) specializes in the relief of the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness. The goal is to prevent and ease suffering and to offer patients and their families the best possible quality of life. It is useful at any stage of an illness. And, it can be provided at the same time as treatment that is meant to cure you.

Palliative care helps you carry on with your daily life. It improves your ability to go through medical treatments. It may help you better understand your condition and your choices for medical care. In short, you can expect the best possible quality of life through a process specializing in the relief of pain, symptoms and the stress related to serious illness.

Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care

Palliative care is not the same as hospice care. Hospice care also provides palliative care; however, it is focused on terminally ill patients who are no longer seeking treatments to cure.

The Palliative Care Team

A team of St. Joseph experts, including doctors, nurses, home health care experts and social workers, provide palliative care. Each palliative care plan is uniquely created for the individual, so chaplains, pharmacists, nutritionists and others might also be part of your team.

Working in partnership, your palliative care team provides:

  • expert treatment of pain and other symptoms
  • ongoing clear communication
  • help navigating the healthcare system
  • guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices
  • detailed practical information and assistance
  • emotional and spiritual support for you and your family

Watch Dr. Trina Michael and Stacey Hittner of Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Palliative Care team on BCTV’s Health Today as they discuss what you need to know about Palliative Care.

Conditions & Treatment

Palliative care may be right for you if you suffer from pain or other symptoms due to a serious illness.

Serious illnesses may include:

  • cancer
  • cardiac disease
  • congestive heart failure
  • respiratory disease
  • kidney or liver failure
  • Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
  • AIDS
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • multiple sclerosis

Or if you have experienced:

  • frequent emergency room visits
  • multiple admissions to the hospital (3 or more within 12 months) with the same symptoms
  • turning point in the illness where treatment is no longer working
  • eating problems associated with an advanced illness

What can I expect?

Palliative care can be provided at any stage of illness and along with treatment meant to cure you.
  • Expert treatment of pain and other symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath and other distressing symptoms
  • Open discussion about treatment choices, including treatment for your disease and management of your symptoms
  • Coordination of your care with all of your health care providers
  • Emotional, spiritual and psycho social support for you and your family

Scheduling Palliative Care

Scheduling Palliative Care requires a physician’s referral. You may start by talking with your physician.

Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans cover all or part of the palliative care treatment you receive in the hospital. If costs concern you, a social worker or financial consultant from the palliative care team may be of further assistance to answer your questions.

If you have any questions, please contact:
Deborah Nicholson RN, BS, CCM, CHPN
Palliative Care Navigator
610-378-2046 610-378-2046
DNicholson@pennstatehealth.psu.edu