A new program is aiming to provide specialized care for people living with serious illnesses but are not in need of hospice care.
Jacksonville Memorial Hospital along with the entire Memorial Health system of hospitals is now offering Palliative Care both in hospital and community-based options. Julie Bobell with Memorial Health says that this type of care is focused on providing relief of the symptoms and stress of an illness, with the goal of providing the best quality of life as possible for the patient.
Bobell says the main difference between palliative care and hospice care is that palliative is available throughout a disease process, not just in those last months of a patient’s life.
Memorial Health launched the Palliative Care program on December 1st and is able to assist patients in the Jacksonville area with issues like cardiopulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, renal disease, and cancer among others.
Bobell says the palliative care program helps bridge the gap in care faced by many patients battling an ongoing illness.
“The biggest one is really making sure that they have all the support that they need in their home or in their assisted living. That’s really who we are helping right now in this current time. So it’s really just an extra layer of support. We have a social worker, we also have a nurse and a nurse practitioner to help with things like pain and symptom management, getting home health for them in their home if they need it, and really just helping them with whatever they need, and there’s not a service out there like that. So just helping them fill those gaps in their care that they really do need to be able to stay at home for as long as they can and to really help increase their quality of life.”
Bobell says the program is designed to help anyone living with a serious illness with a multi-faceted approach, and that it takes a special kind of person to help provide the level of care.
“We have some really great ones. We have our social worker and we have a nurse practitioner right now and we are actually looking for a nurse for our team to help round us out. But definitely very compassionate people. People who are going to listen and who have been specially trained in how to do this work and have these communication skills and to help support patients and families as they go through what is really a difficult time many times.”
Palliative care is a newer concept and Bobell says although it has become a national movement, the Memorial Health Palliative Care Program is one of the only such programs in quite a large service area. She says it is a new concept in care, but it does work hand in hand with existing hospice care programs should a patient need to transition from one to the other without a further gap in service.
To find out more information on the Palliative Care Program at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital, patients can ask their Memorial Health Physician or those with other primary care providers can go online to Memorial.Health and search Palliative Care, or call 217-788-5302.