The Maine Medical Center Palliative Care Program provides care and support to patients and families facing a serious illness. Palliative care is appropriate at any age, from pediatric to geriatric, for life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses. Care can be provided during any part of a patient’s illness.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care that provides help in managing pain and other symptoms of serious illness. It also provides emotional, psychological and spiritual support to patients and their families as they plan for the future.
Palliative care teams work together with primary care physicians and specialists to create individualized care plans. The goal of care is to make the quality of life better for both the patient and the family.
For adults, palliative care services typically include care for patients suffering from:
- advanced cancer
- lung disease
- heart disease
- neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and ALS
How does pediatric palliative care differ?
Pediatric palliative care is specialized medical care that meets the needs of infants, children and adolescents with serious illnesses. Not all pediatric patients getting palliative care have terminal illnesses, but all suffer from a serious medical condition that affects their quality of life, such as:
- genetic disorders
- complications from prematurity
- neurologic disorders
- heart and lung conditions
The palliative care team
Our team is comprised of specially trained professionals including:
- Advanced Practice Practioners
- Clinical Patient Navigators
- Social Workers
What services are available?
Specific needs vary depending on a patient’s illness and situation. We work closely with patients and their families to determine the services that will provide the greatest benefi t. These services may include:
- Management of pain and other symptoms
- Assistance with goals of care conversations
- Planning for future care needs
- Emotional and spiritual support
- Integrative therapies such as hypnosis and acupuncture
- Bereavement support and referral
- Completion of Advanced Care
Planning documents such as living wills, advanced care directives and POLST (Physician Orders for LifeSustaining Treatment)
Who can receive palliative care services?
The Palliative Care Program welcomes patients and family members who are facing a serious or life-threatening illness. We will help you regardless of the diagnosis or your ability to pay. Physicians or their staff will refer patients to the program. Services are provided in the inpatient setting at Maine Medical Center or in the outpatient Palliative and Supportive Care Clinic, located at 66 Bramhall Street, Portland, Maine.
Will the patients’ physician still be involved in their care?
Yes. The team works closely with the patient’s regular physician who will continue to be a part of their care.
How does palliative care differ from hospice care?
The Palliative Care Program is located both in the hospital and in the outpatient setting. Team members can provide care during any part of a patient’s illness, even during active treatment, such as chemotherapy. Hospice care is provided to those patients who are nearing the end of life.
End of life care
When an illness has progressed to an advanced stage, treatment to relieve pain and their symptoms continues. Members of the palliative care team will remain closely involved with a focus on intensive caring. The goal is to help patients live life to the fullest with quality and dignity.