Palliative Care at Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital

Palliative Medicine is the treatment of suffering for patients with life-limiting or life-threatening illness. Because that suffering takes many forms, including physical, spiritual, psychological and social, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital has assembled a Palliative Care team from many disciplines to assist primary physicians in alleviating that suffering.

The Palliative Care team is composed of a physician, an advanced practice nurse, a chaplain, social workers, and other health care providers, all with special interest and training in the care of patients with serious and life-threatening illnesses. The team works to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

The Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital Palliative Care team works with the patient's physicians to assist with:

  • Treatment options for difficult to manage symptoms including:
    • Pain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Anxiety
    • Confusion
    • Insomnia
    • Swallowing difficulties
  • Support with time intensive patient/family communication, including discussions about Advanced Care Directives.
  • Emotional and spiritual support for patients and families as they navigate the healthcare system.
  • Identifying and coordinating support services for patients after discharge from the hospital.
  • Comfort care at the end of life.

Patients that might benefit from consultation with Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital's Palliative Care team include those with:
  • End stage organ failure, (pulmonary, cardiac, hepatic, or renal)
  • Cancer
  • Neurological illnesses such as stroke, ALS, and dementia
  • Need for care focused on comfort
  • Advanced terminal illness
  • Traumatic life-limiting or life-threatening injuries.

Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital's palliative care team is nota pain management service for chronic pain syndromes, but maybe able to assist in referring those patients to appropriate centers.

Palliative Care is different from Hospice care.
Palliative care is available to patients at any point in the trajectory of their illness, from diagnosis to death. Whether in conjunction with curative care or providing comfort only, the ultimate goal is improvement in quality of life for patients and their families.

Hospice care is limited to those who have a prognosis of approximately six months based on the natural course of their disease. Patients in hospice care generally are no longer receiving treatment to cure their illness.

Most insurance plans, including Medicare, cover palliative care services.

Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital Palliative Care Consultation is available:
  • By physician order
  • Direct communication with the team and documentation in the patient's medical chart
  • By phone: 615-396-5950
  • Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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