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CKHS Palliative Care Programs Aim to Help Those with a Serious Illness

In Brief

  • Crozer-Keystone offers its Palliative Care Program at Crozer-Chester Medical Center and Delaware County Memorial Hospital.
  • Patients who commonly receive palliative care services include those who have advanced cancer, advanced heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, or neurological illnesses such as stroke and dementia.
  • Palliative care can be available during all stages of the serious illness.
  • The palliative care team works to relieve the patient’s suffering by assessing and treating pain, other troublesome physical symptoms, and psychosocial and spiritual problems.

The Crozer-Keystone Palliative Care Program helps patients that are seriously ill and their families cope through the distress associated with their illness.

The Palliative Care Program has been available for patients at Crozer-Chester Medical Center since September 2006 and has helped a number of patients and their families relieve not only physical symptoms, but also the fear and anxiety associated with their serious illness. A similar program is now available at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, having begun in October 2010. 

The Palliative Care Programs at Crozer-Chester Medical Center and Delaware County Memorial Hospital are a consultation service that helps patients who are suffering life-limiting medical conditions and their families. The goal of the Palliative Care Program is help improve the quality of life for patients and their families. 

“This is an important opportunity to provide the type of care that is proven to improve the quality of life of not only our patients, but their families, during such a critical time of their lives,” says Jane Hanahan, R.N., B.S.N., MHA, administrative director of Home Care and Hospice for Crozer-Keystone Health System.

Patients who commonly receive palliative care services include those who have advanced cancer, advanced heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, or neurological illnesses such as stroke and dementia.

Palliative care is similar, but not the same as hospice care. Hospice care is available for patients who have finished active treatments and have a prognosis of 6 months or less to live. Palliative care can be available during all stages of the serious illness. Studies in patients with lung cancer have shown that patients who have received palliative care early in the diagnosis have, on average, lived longer, felt better and underwent less invasive intervention than those with conventional treatment.

“A palliative care program helps patients and their families navigate through tough medical decisions during a very difficult time. Doctors develop a plan of care that respects a patient’s wishes, as well as their needs for support and comfort,” says Colleen McGee, D.O., medical director of Palliative Care at DCMH.

During the consultations, the palliative care team works on advance care planning, which allows able patients and their families to speak with the patient’s physicians and to express in advance their preferences related to pain management, patient support, beneficial vs. “burdensome” treatments, comfort, counseling and other quality-of-life issues. 

“We strive to help relieve suffering by assessing and treating pain, other troublesome physical symptoms, and psychosocial and spiritual problems,” adds Stanley Savinese, D.O., FAAHPM, medical director of Palliative Care at Crozer.

Depending on the different care that is needed, the palliative care team will help ensure that the patients and families are the deciding factors in controlling what is right for the patient. If the goal is continuing aggressive treatments to fight or treat the illness, then the team works toward ensuring that the symptoms are well controlled. If the patient and family’s goal is comfort, then the team helps with symptom management and often engages hospice care.

To speak with the palliative care coordinator, Terry Sandman, regarding palliative care services at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, call (610) 447-2250. To request a consultation at Crozer, call (610) 579-3555. To speak with Margie Harper, Delaware County Memorial Hospital’s palliative care coordinator, call (610) 284-0700. To request a consultation at DCMH, call (610) 622-7933.

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