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Healthwise: Palliative Care Team

October 27, 2010

Martha Jefferson Hospital's Palliative Care Team consists of nurses, a doctor and a chaplain. The team works together to help patients deal with illness, conduct family counseling sessions and create treatment goals.

While hospice focuses on end of life care, palliative care is more long term.

"Somebody can be doing chemotherapy, they can be on dialysis, they can be someone with a long term illness [that] lasts eight or ten years and have terrible symptoms. Palliative care treats all of those symptoms," said Suzanne Hilton Smith, a chaplain.

The team wants patients to understand they are not alone when going through an illness and works to provide physical, spiritual, and/or emotional support.

Palliative care also benefits the families of patients.

"For a lot of families there are relationship struggles and spiritual struggles. There is spiritual despair," added Smith.

Dr. Martha Battle, who works in palliative care, says that for one husband, "It was just helpful for him to have someone to talk to about how frustrating it was, in terms of getting care for his wife when her symptoms were progressing."

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