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What is palliative care?

From Pam Myhre, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner


The Centers for Disease Control states that in the United States, 117 million people have at least one chronic disease and 20% of all people with Medicare have five or more chronic diseases. Better quality of life can be found by working with a palliative care provider.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is provided as an extra layer of support to health care already being received. Palliative care is a process of patient and family-centered care that optimizes the quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering. Palliative care occurs throughout the continuum of illness.

As a palliative care practitioner, I will address physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs and facilitate patient autonomy, access to information, and choice. I will work with you to explore advanced care planning, to help you answer questions about procedures and treatments that might be recommended in your health care.

Who provides palliative care?

Across the country, doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants have been trained to focus on symptoms of serious illness. They strive to help patients and families navigate the health care system and evaluate choices for their health care.

Here at Crossing Rivers Health, I am proud to bring five years of experience in providing community-based palliative care and will meet with you and your family in your home. A chaplain, social worker and volunteers are also available in our program.

Palliative care services at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin

It sounds like hospice. Is it the same?

The principles of palliative care are always practiced in hospice but, palliative care is not hospice care. Palliative care can be provided at any stage of a
disease or illness.

Does Medicare or insurance cover this service?

Most insurances, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, cover the services of palliative care.

What are chronic or serious illnesses?

People who benefit from palliative care include those with Alzheimer’s disease, chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes with complications, heart conditions like congestive heart failure (CHF), kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and cancer.

How do I access palliative care provider services?

Ask your primary care provider, your nurse or social worker to refer you to palliative care. You may also contact Crossing Rivers Health Home Care at 608.357.2440.