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Palliative Care FAQ

What is palliative care?

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 palliative care different from hospice care?

Palliative care and hospice care both provide comfort and offer compassionate care to patients with life-limiting illnesses. But palliative 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 six months or less.

How can this care help with my serious illness?

Our Palliative Care team partners with your referring doctor and you to help with symptom control and communication regarding options and choices for your plan of care. It focuses on reducing the impact of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms to improve comfort and quality of life for patients with serious illness and their families, now.

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, disease trajectory, 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.
  • Advanced care planning: This involves learning about the types of decisions that might need to be made, considering those decisions ahead of time, and then letting others know—both your family and your health care providers—about your preferences. 

Who pays for palliative 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 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.