Palliative Care

"To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always." ~ Hippocrates

Palliative care at CAMC is for patients and families who are affected by serious or life-threatening conditions. Services can begin any time during an illness, including when treatment is aimed at cure. Different from hospice, the goal of palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering and promote quality of life. Long term care focuses on the whole person: body, mind and spirit.

Palliative care is not exclusive to senior care, but treats people suffering from serious and chronic illnesses including cancer, cardiac disease like Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), kidney failure, Alzheimer's, HIV/AIDS and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Palliative care works closely with patients, families and their physicians. Based on the patient's personal values and treatment preferences, we discuss and formulate a plan of care that is individualized for that patient. Additional services include pain and symptom management, care coordination across the health care system, support for patients and families and assistance with advance directives.

Palliative care consultations are provided to patients by physician order.
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about palliative care at CAMC, contact:
Deborah J. Cotes, DO, Medical Director – (304) 388-4657
Linda Hozdic, ANP – (304) 388-4658
Gina Diddle, FNP – (304) 388-7916

Outpatient Palliative Care Clinic

"The goal of our clinic is to help patients dealing with cancer and other chronic illnesses to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life,” said Deborah J. Cotes, DO, medical director for palliative care services. “Our services can begin any time during an illness, including when treatment is aimed at cure.”

New patients need a physician referral to be seen at the clinic, and patients that have been seen for palliative care services in the hospital can continue to be seen there on an outpatient basis. Services offered include complex cancer pain recommendations, disease related symptom management, advance care planning for patients with chronic illness, emotional and practical support, guidance with difficult treatment options and assistance in planning for appropriate resources according to patient needs.

“Certainly, patients with cancer, heart, lung, liver and kidney disease can be seen in the clinic,” Cotes said. “Patients with dementia symptoms can be referred for our services as well.”

Many people think that palliative care is the same as hospice, but that is not true.

“I use the following quote to help explain the difference, ‘All hospice is palliative care, but not all palliative care is hospice,'” she said. “Hospice requires a patient to be certified by two physicians to have a life expectancy of six months, and it also stops most curative treatments. This is not true for palliative care.”

Palliative care is not care at the end of life, but it improves a patient's quality of life at any stage in their illness. Many patients who are nowhere near death can benefit from the additional support and pain and symptom control palliative care offers. Important recent evidence in palliative care now indicates that providing palliative care alongside standard care not only improves many patients quality of life, but also extends their lives.

“We want the clinic to be a place where patients and their families feel comfortable talking about their diseases and the impact on their lives,” Cotes said. “Expert advice will be available regarding the completion of advance directives and symptom management. We want to make sure that patients discuss their wishes and document them in a manner that is understood and respected by all health care providers.”

Care at the clinic is provided by board-certified palliative care physicians, a pharmacist and a social worker. The clinic is located in the CAMC Outpatient Care Center on the fourth floor of the CAMC Heart and Vascular Center. Clinic hours are Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to noon with an appointment.

For referrals to the outpatient palliative care clinic, call central scheduling at (304) 388-9677.