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Clinical Care

Palliative care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness – whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by our team of doctors, APPs, social workers, nurses, and a music therapist who work with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided together with curative or life-prolonging treatment.

We provide inpatient consults at University and Memorial campuses and an outpatient specialty clinic in the ACC. We receive referrals for a wide array of patients and are embedded in the VAD and ECMO programs and clinics serving ALS and cancer patients. We work closely with population health and community partners to widen access to palliative care in community settings. 

Care Settings

Inpatient care: We have interdisciplinary teams at both University and Memorial campuses 5 days/week.  

  • Management of symptoms related to serious illness such as cancer-associated pain, nausea, constipation, anxiety, and depression 
  • Helping patients and their families to navigate complex diagnoses and make decisions about treatment options that support patients’ goals and values 

Outpatient care: We have a clinic in the Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) building on the University campus. We see outpatient appointments 5 days per week and can accommodate telehealth appointments. 

  • Symptom management, especially titration of pain medications 
  • Ongoing discussions about goals of care and patient wishes and values to help align treatment with patient preferences 
  • Help with understanding and completing advance care planning documents 

Examples of the Types of Patients We See

Please note that these patients are fictional.

Elizabeth (she/her)

  • She is a 90-year-old woman living with progressive dementia. She lives in senior housing and has both Medicare and Masshealth for insurance. She’s been choking on her food more which means she hasn’t eaten as much as she should and has been losing weight. The staff at her facility say she’s had more angry outbursts. Her daughter feels guilty that she isn’t keeping her promise not to put her mother in a facility.

Derrick (he/his)

  • 35-year-old married man with sickle cell disease. He has heart disease, has had two strokes, and bone breakdown in his hips and shoulders. He’s had pain most of his life and is in and out of the hospital frequently because of it. His pain has increased and affected his ability to work and take care of himself at home. He uses oxygen when he feels short of breath. He wants to continue to live at home, not in a facility.

Rosa (she/her)

  • 57-year-old woman with end-stage COPD and heart disease. She is divorced and lives in an apartment but has no support other than her partner with whom she lives. She primarily speaks Spanish. She is wary of outside help and cannot get oxygen because her partner smokes. They also don’t have a car, so she has difficulty getting to her appointments. She often calls 911 and has been in the hospital five times in just the last four months for pneumonia, dehydration, and a heart attack.

Robert (he/his)

  • 47-year-old with ALS, on disability from his job. He lives with his partner and their two children, ages 8 and 10. He’s recently had a feeding tube placed and is bedbound and uses a BiPap machine to help him breathe. He often has leg spasms. His partner is his main caregiver, but they do have a home health visiting nurse to help twice a week. He hates being in the hospital but goes to the emergency room for crises.