BHS Palliative Care
Caring Treatment for Serious Illness
Palliative Care is specialized care that focuses on improving quality of
life and providing comfort to people of all ages with serious, chronic
and life-threatening illnesses.
At Butler Health System, we take a team approach to care for the whole
person - physically, emotionally and spiritually. This care is provided
by a core team of specially-trained doctors, physician assistants, nurses
and social workers who create a program based on the patient's individual goals.
Dr. Kathy Selvaggi, director of the BHS Palliative Care program, provides
leadership and expertise gained at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's
to hear a PBS interview with Dr. Kathy Selvaggi.
Listen to a recent radio show featuring Dr. Kathy Selvaggi and Dr. Dillon
Stein discussing palliative care at BHS
to view our videos on Palliative Care
Is palliative care just for patients near the end of life?
Palliative care can begin at the start of a serious illness and be given
alongside treatments. It can be an important component of treatment for
long-term progressive conditions. In fact, people who receive palliative
care may live longer and have a better quality of life than people who
do not receive palliative care.
Do I need a Palliative Care consult to send a patient to hospice?
No, you may still refer a patient to hospice without a formal palliative
care consult. A palliative care consult can add additional assistance
with symptom management, difficult goals of care discussions, and help
with transition planning for both the patient and their family.
How can I identify patients who need palliative care?
Patients who may benefit from palliative care services include:
- Those with serious or life threatening illnesses such as cancer, CHF, COPD
and many neurological diseases
- Patients who have a history of recurrent hospitalizations
- Patients with psychosocial, emotional and/or spiritual distress
How do I get an inpatient Palliative Care Consult?
Place a consult request in Meditech, Palliative Care, Dr. Kathy Selvaggi
(SELK). Butler Palliative Care Office number: 724.968.5330; Hours are Monday
- Friday 9am-5pm.
Other than symptom management, what else can palliative care do?
As part of a patient-centered approach, palliative care allows patients
and their families to make plans that reflect their goals and preferences.
Often, palliative care allows seriously ill patients to avoid stressful
trips to the hospital and spend more time at home with loved ones. One
approach is to specify goals, such as attending a family event or holiday,
staying out of the hospital, maintaining mobility, living pain free and
helping to overcome side effects of certain medications.
What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?
Palliative care can be appropriate during any stage of a serious illness
and can be given along with curative treatments. Hospice is a type of
palliative care program for people in the final months of life, who are
no longer pursuing curative or aggressive treatments. Like other forms
of palliative care, hospice can improve quality of life and be an important
source of care and comfort for patients and their families.
What is the difference between palliative care and pain management specialties
and when do I consult each?
Palliative care provides relief of pain and other symptoms for patients
with serious or life threatening illnesses. Palliative care also helps
to support the best possible quality of life for patients and their families.
specialists focus on pain from various causes, but not necessarily only
in patients with serious illnesses. They can treat acute or chronic pain
syndromes. Often these specialists are anesthesiologists, neurologists,
interventional radiologists, as well as various other specialists.
What types of symptoms can palliative care address?
Typical symptoms addressed by palliative care specialists include, but
are not limited to:
- Pain (all types including visceral, somatic, neuropathic)
- Opioid and adjuvant pain medication management
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite and nutrition
- Dyspnea and air hunger
- Anxiety and depression
Where can my patients receive palliative care services?
Palliative care and hospice is available in many settings. These services
can be received at home, in the hospital, in a facility (SNF, personal
care, etc), and through an outpatient clinic.