Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday: What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a specific specialty in the healthcare field that helps provide added support to patients facing serious illnesses. 

“Palliative care is the promotion of quality of life with people who have serious illness” noted Peggy Bishop, a palliative care nurse practitioner at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital. 

The team provides care to patients in a unique way that some may not first think about when they are sick. 

“We pay attention to things like physical symptoms like pain or nausea or vomiting, those sorts of things,” noted Bishop. “We also want to attend to the emotional needs of the patient and the family as well as sometimes help with decision making.” 

It is important to understand that the palliative care team works in tandem with a patient’s team of doctors. 

“We don’t replace them, but we work alongside them to help improve quality of life, manage symptom burden and support them as they move through their treatment,” commented Bishop. 

The palliative care team sees people in any stage of their illness. 

“It could be very early on in a diagnosis while they are going for a curative regiment or very intensive, aggressive therapy,” noted Bishop. “During that therapy, however, they could have a high symptom burden so we are helping manage those symptoms and the emotional distress or discomfort that can come along with that as well.” 

Anyone can request a palliative care consult by simply speaking with their doctor. 

Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital is co-sponsoring a screening of the film Being Mortal at the Paramount Theatre on March 18th.  Tickets are free and this film provides a great opportunity to learn more about how to deal with serious illnesses. 

For more information on this topic, call 1-800-SENTARA.  If you have a health question you’d like for us to answer, please email healthquestions@nbc29.com

Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

Do you have health questions? Get the answers every Monday morning from the experts in our feature: Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday.

Jenn Downs will meet with the experts of Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and ask them your questions. You’ll see and hear the answers during NBC29 News at Sunrise every Monday morning.

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Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital