What is palliative care like at Martha Jefferson Hospital?
The caring tradition of Martha Jefferson Hospital is well-known throughout the area and palliative care works to enhance that caring tradition. In January 2006, supported by generous community philanthropy, Martha Jefferson started offering palliative care consultation for inpatients. Consultations are requested by the attending physician to help with a variety of concerns. Some patients have chronic pain or post-surgical pain alone. Some patients are actively dying and need symptom control along with family support and education. Other patients are undergoing aggressive care in the intensive care unit and benefit from improved symptoms and support for difficult decision-making. Others are undergoing dialysis, chemotherapy or radiation therapy and are seen for symptom control and family support.
The initial palliative care consultation is provided by Lisa Illig, MD, and chaplain Suzanne Hilton-Smith. Patient care is supported by an extended team, including nurses, social workers, and pharmacists. Other specialists may be brought in as needed for each individual patient and family. For some patients, support from an integrative medicine specialist is helpful. For others, respiratory and physical therapists play an important role. Any member of the extended Martha Jefferson staff may become a member of the team for any particular patient and family. Palliative care works to identify those important team members and involve them as needed in an effort to support the patient, the family and the primary medical team.