Outpatient Supportive Care Program
Supportive Care seeks to give patients with a life-limiting illness and their families a type of care that supports their quality of life and also prepares them for death. The Supportive Care/Palliative Care program goals are to relieve pain and other symptoms, offer practical assistance at home, encourage discussion about values and planning for medical care, support personal growth and closure, and help the bereaved deal with loss.
The St. Joseph Medical Center Outpatient Supportive Care Program, in place since November 1999, is for patients experiencing cancer and their families. This program offers weekly telephone support and guidance to the patient/family, backed by an interdisciplinary team that meets every other week to make suggestions and/or offer interventions with the patient’s physician(s) as necessary. The interdisciplinary team includes nurse case managers, oncology nurses, home health/hospital nurses, social workers, chaplains, radiation therapists, nurse volunteers, and doctors. The program, based on the Advanced Illness Coordinated Care (AICC) Model of Dr. Daniel Tobin, has been adopted by the Coalition for Supportive Care of the Dying of which CHI is a member.
Referrals are made to the Outpatient Supportive Care Program by physicians and staff members who believe that the patient meets the program acceptance criteria and his/her family will benefit from the additional support provided by the supportive care team.
The outpatient Palliative Medicine Program, under the direction of Board-certified palliative medicine practitioner, Teresa M. Mercurio, MD, accepts referrals from and collaborates with oncologists and other specialists to provide care which supports symptom management, communication between patient, family, and care team, reduced caregiver and patient distress, discussions about advance care planning, and quality care.
Dr. Mercurio sees outpatient cancer patient palliative medicine consults and follow-ups in the Cancer Center. Patients become outpatient palliative medicine patients via referral from the oncologists to the palliative medicine practitioner or via transition of care from the inpatient palliative care team.