Focus on quality of life - palliative care
UK HealthCare's Palliative Care Service provides comfort to patients and their families
UK HealthCare's Palliative Care Service employs a multidisciplinary, team-based approach.
Patients at Markey benefit from access to the UK HealthCare Palliative Care Service, which works works with the Palliative Care Center of the Bluegrass to provide a multidisciplinary, team-based approach to provide comfort to patients who are experiencing a life-limiting illness such as cancer. A typical team might include one or more physicians, a nurse, a social worker, a pharmacist and a chaplain.
Kristy Deep, MD, director of UK HealthCare's Palliative Care Service, says it is important to distinguish palliative medicine from hospice care, which provides end-of-life care to patients who are not receiving curative therapies.
Although hospice is a component of palliative medicine, Dr. Deep stresses that palliative care should not be thought of as merely the final option for patients with terminal illness. Rather, she says, palliative care should be thought of as an adjunct component of a comprehensive treatment plan available early on in the disease course.
"We are here to walk the entire journey with the patient and their family," Dr. Deep said. "In palliative medicine, our focus is entirely on the patient rather than the disease. So, we work to develop goals of care for each patient, which can then inform the discussions and decisions about their treatment. This is actually very empowering for patients, because they are the ones deciding what they want to get out of their medical care."
Each patient's needs are different, so the Palliative Care team meets daily to discuss each case. Dr. Deep says those discussions often take into account a lot of issues that go beyond strictly medical symptoms.
"Our emphasis is on quality of life," Dr. Deep said. "That includes pain management and the treatment of symptoms. But it also includes making sure the patient's emotional and spiritual needs are fulfilled."
Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, especially for cancer, have changed the face of palliative care, Dr. Deep says.
"Today, people with cancer are living longer and survival times that once were measured in weeks are now measured in years. Palliative care is not about death and dying; it is about making the most of life, for however long it lasts."