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Serious Illness Care - FAQ

What is serious illness care?

Serious illness care, also known as palliative care, is specialized medical care focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness, all with the goal of improving the quality of life for both the patient and the family.

How is serious illness care different from hospice care?

Serious illness care and hospice care both provide comfort and offer compassionate care to patients with life-limiting illnesses. But serious illness care can begin at diagnosis, and at the same time as treatment. Hospice care begins after treatment of the disease is stopped and when it is clear that the person is not going to survive the illness. Hospice care is usually offered only when the person is expected to live 6 months or less.

How can this care help with my serious illness?

We assist with:

  • Treatments to relieve symptoms: Expert treatment for relief of pain and other burdensome symptoms.
  • Emotional and spiritual support for the patient and family: Living with a serious illness can be frightening, isolating, and stressful for all touched by it. We help to foster communication and support to one another throughout an illness.
  • Guidance on medical information and treatment options: Information regarding illness and treatment options can be overwhelming and confusing. We can help to coordinate health information and care providers in a way that helps individuals define and achieve their personal goals for care.

Who pays for serious illness care?

Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurances cover these services, but care is available to all patients regardless of any ability to pay.

How do I become a patient?

Talk to your doctor or healthcare team about a serious illness care (also known as palliative care) consultation. In the hospital, patients are typically seen the same day. Outside of the hospital, a clinic appointment can be arranged by having your doctor send a referral.