Owensboro Health Regional Hospital offers palliative medicine options for patients, including specialist care and guidance from a board-certified palliative medicine physician.
Our palliative medicine efforts are led by Dr. Melanie Farrell, who joined Owensboro Health in 2016. Dr. Farrell is a knowledgeable and skilled provider with advanced training in this type of specialized care. Dr. Farrell not only has worked as a palliative medicine specialist but also has experience in training new physicians in how to meet the needs of palliative patients.
Would you like to know more about palliative medicine and what it involves? We’re happy to offer you the following information so you can learn if palliative services can benefit you or a loved one.
What Is Palliative Medicine?
Palliative medicine is a medical specialty for patients with serious illnesses. The focus of palliative medicine is to manage symptoms. This specialty also places a strong emphasis on relieving stress, both for the patient and their loved ones, related to a serious illness. Palliative medicine is also beneficial because it gives patients a feeling of control over their illness and helps them participate in decision-making when there are multiple treatment options available.
Symptoms treated by palliative care include, but are not limited to:
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Poor sleep
- Reduced appetite
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Cancer-related pain
Who Can Benefit From Palliative Medicine?
Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of serious illness. It is also used in treating people of all ages, from infants to seniors.
How Is Palliative Medicine Different From Hospice Care?
Palliative medicine is a medical specialty. It can be provided to people whose illness can be cured, often while curative care is in progress, so they can return to their lives. Hospice is a program designed for people who are facing a terminal illness or condition and are in the final six months of their life.
How Does Palliative Medicine Fit In With Other Medical Services?
Palliative medicine is meant to be delivered in harmony with the patient’s other care. That means palliative specialists are partners with primary care providers and specialists, providing an extra layer of support and service to patients with advanced medical needs.
Specialties which commonly work with palliative medicine include, but are not limited to:
- Cardiology (heart)
- Endocrinology (metabolic disorders, including diabetes)
- Nephrology (kidney)
- Neurology (brain)
- Pulmonology (lung & respiratory)
- Surgery (general & specialty)
What Happens If I think Palliative Medicine Might Benefit Myself Or A Loved One?
Owensboro Health Regional Hospital has an inpatient consult service, so anyone who is admitted to the hospital can be seen by a palliative specialist. We can also help with referrals after hospitalization, including cases where patients may benefit from long-term or hospice care if that is consistent with their wishes and goals. If you would like to receive a consult, ask your doctor to refer you for a consult.
What Else Do I Need To Know About Palliative Medicine?
It is important for all individuals to think and prepare for the possibility that they might need advanced medical care but be unable to make decisions for themselves. This can happen without warning due to sudden severe illness or injury.
In order to ensure that you receive care consistent with your wishes, it is important to talk to loved ones about the care you would like to receive in these cases. It is also a good idea to have legal documentation to ensure that this care is given in harmony with your wishes.
- Advanced care directives or living wills: These documents specify types of care you do or do not wish to receive, in case you are unable to tell medical providers what you want. For example, a living will might include instructions that you do not want to receive long-term interventions such as artificial life support or ventilator-assisted breathing care.
- Power of attorney: This document designates an individual (or individuals) who you would like to make medical decisions for you in case you are unable to do so for yourself.
Would you like to know more or find resources about healthcare decisions? Visit the website of National Healthcare Decisions Day at www.nhdd.org.