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Feature Article

Palliative Care Ensures Comfort Dignity and Control

Palliative care is for anyone facing a serious illness. It is designed to ensure comfort, dignity and control for a patient experiencing a complex or life-threatening illness. Samaritan providers offer this service at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Samaritan Albany General Hospital, with plans to expand the program to other the Samaritan-affiliated hospitals in the region.

People often confuse palliative care and hospice. Hospice is a type of palliative care which provides care at home or in a home-like setting specifically in the last six months of life. Palliative care is an option no matter what a patient’s life expectancy may be.

“Offering this service is of such value to patients and their family during what is often a high-stress situation,” said Jeff Lear, MD, who serves as a medical director in Samaritan’s Palliative Care program.

“Managing pain and other symptoms are key components of what we do, as well as providing guidance in complex treatment choices based on personal values,” said Lear. The palliative care team works closely with the primary care physician to improve communication about a patient’s serious illness.

Social, emotional and spiritual needs are also a fundamental part of palliative care. A social worker assists with emotional and social issues and offers a connection to resources at the hospital and in the community. A chaplain offers spiritual and emotional support according to faith-based needs.

“Sometimes after being diagnosed with a critical illness, someone may feel lost at sea, unsure of which direction to go,” said Wes Sedlacek, a chaplain serving Samaritan Albany General Hospital and Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital. “Palliative care is a program that, like a lighthouse, provides guidance allowing for safer navigation through the complex decisions that need to be made.”

For more information about the Palliative Care program, call 541-768-6741.