The Palliative Care Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital focuses on symptom management and quality of life concerns for adult patients with serious chronic progressive or terminal illnesses. We center our care on patients and families, and help them deal together with their loved ones’ physical issues such as pain, fatigue, and nausea, as well as with psycho-social issues like depression, disruption of family life, and financial concerns.
Each patient consultation includes a comprehensive review of medical records and medical history, a physical examination, and a discussion of the symptoms, goals, values, social interests, and spiritual needs of the patient and his or her family. Ongoing evaluation and follow-up care are then provided as needed.
Palliative care uses many approaches, depending on the individual patient’s symptoms, needs, and wishes. It might involve the following:
Complementary techniques, including breathing exercises, massage or Reiki, acupuncture, art or music therapy
Mental health services and coping strategies
Spiritual support and guidance
The palliative care team includes expert physicians and advanced practice providers who partner with social workers, chaplains, pharmacists, care coordinators, and other clinical staff members to offer an additional dimension of expertise. Our staff is experienced in helping patients and families manage distress in the face of serious illness, as well as at life’s end.
It’s important to note that unlike hospice care, which is meant specifically for those approaching the last stages of life—usually the final six months—palliative care can complement ongoing treatment at any stage of illness. Palliative care does not mean that active treatment to cure a disorder or prolong life will end. All care will continue through any stage or time in each patient’s illness.
In collaboration with our Palliative Care Program, the Bereavement Service at Yale New Haven Hospital provides care and support to families and friends following the loss of a loved one. Grief is a normal response to loss, and responses to grief can be physical, emotional, and spiritual. Learning and understanding more about grief will help with healing. We are also providing support for those facing the loss of a loved one due to COVID.
A variety of services are offered to help with understanding grief and learning to live life without a loved one:
“Healing grief” seminars
Bereavement support groups
Short-term grief counseling by telephone or office visit
“Hope for the Holidays” program
Annual memorial service
Information and referral service for bereavement resources