"Palliative Care at St. Mary's Hospital at Amsterdam:
A Unique and Compassionate Experience"
The mission of St. Mary's Hospital expresses "our commitment to care compassionately for those we serve with dedication to excellence and Christian ideals." The Palliative Care Service lives this commitment by focusing on individual patients and their loved ones, embracing the total care of a patient. The unique goal of palliative care is to identify not only the physical aspects of an illness, but also the social, psychological and spiritual components as they relate to the individual facing acute and potentially life-threatening illness or chronic illness. Using the strengths of an interdisciplinary team approach, the Palliative Care Team at St. Mary's works with patients and their families to maximize a patient's quality of life and to assist them with communication that best supports the patient's needs.
What is Palliative Care? Palliative Care is a medical specialty that supports the primary physician's care of patients with serious and life threatening illness. Specialists in the field of palliative care treat complex pain symptoms and handle intensive patient-family communication and decision-making needs. The Palliative Care Team supports the plan of care by making patients as comfortable as possible at all stages of an illness, occurring simultaneously with curative care or other medical treatment. Palliative Care does NOT take the place of curative or life-prolonging care, nor is it the same as Hospice care. Although there is some commonality between Hospice and Palliative Care, Hospice care is generally provided at the last stages of life to people with terminal illness. Palliative Medicine is able to offer a treatment plan that includes aggressive, life - prolonging therapies if that is what the physician, patient and family agree is best for the patient. So, while some patients who receive care from the Palliative Care Team in the hospital are transitioned to Hospice care, many are cared for at home or in a nursing home and continue to live fully with their chronic illness. These patients may be living with life-changing illnesses such as end stage heart disease, dementia, end stage lung disease, cancer or kidney disease.
St. Mary's Healthcare has had a Palliative Care consultation service since April 2006. This service includes a Medical Director who is a nationally board-certified physician in pain relief and symptom management with broad experience in informed decision-making strategies. A Nurse Practitioner and a Social Worker work with the physician to identify medical, emotional, and social needs of the patient and the family. Pastoral Care Chaplains work spiritual assessment into a medical treatment plan. Other members of the Palliative Care "team" include the attending physician and other consultative physicians, the nurses on the floor where the patient resides, case managers, pharmacists, dieticians, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, complementary therapies, hospital chaplains, volunteers and local faith communities, as the patient desires. This service is provided anywhere in the hospital, as outpatient, in a nursing home, or in your own home.
Palliative Medicine has now been deemed a medical subspecialty within the American Board of Medical Specialties and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. If the experience of the St. Mary's team is any indication, caregivers understand what an honor it is to journey with patients, families, and loved ones during this most difficult and vulnerable time of their lives. The Palliative Care Team takes respect for the dignity of each person and the promotion of a quality of life in keeping with the patient's wishes to a new standard, truly exemplifying "Care You Can Trust, For Life".
For more information on Palliative Care Services at St. Mary's Healthcare- please contact
Susan Iarusso BSN, RN- Program Director (email@example.com) 518-770-7523
Dr. Nancy Knudsen - Medical Director
Susan E. Casler, FNP -Nurse Practitioner
Amy L. Courtoies, MSW- Social Worker 518-770-7577
David Pilliod - Director, Pastoral Care
Sr. Lucille Theroux, CSJ- Gail Markert, Jennifer Elliott -Chaplains