Palliative care is increasing in acceptance throughout the country. Heart disease, kidney disease, dementia, and of course cancer treatment are serious illnesses where palliative care has proven its worth. Though difficult to access in some smaller communities, 72% of hospitals in the U.S. now provide it, up from just 7% in 2001. "High quality palliative care has been shown to improve patient and family quality of life, improve patients' and families' healthcare experiences, and in certain diseases, prolong life," says Dr. R. Sean Morrison, director of the National Palliative Care Research Center. The center estimates that 12 million adults suffer from serious illness nationally. Treating pain can be as important as treating disease. Palliative care can transform the lives of people with serious, life-threatening conditions, we witness it every day at Turville Bay Radiation Oncology Center.
Palliative care provides relief from the symptoms and stress of illness. At Turville Bay we use radiation therapy palliatively to relieve pain. Further, our physicians and staff listen carefully to patients and their families, answer questions and strive to meet their concerns regarding anxiety and fatigue, which can be problematic for those with cancer. A simple but powerful question we ask our palliative care patients is, “What matters to you?” says Shagun Saggar, MD, HMDC Chief, Palliative Care Medicine at SSM-Health-Wisconsin.
The need for palliative care at all stages of illness is clear, and the field is rising. Turville Bay’s philosophy of patient centered care delivers because every patient deserves the best possible experience.