How Can Integrative and Palliative Medicine Help People with Serious Illness?
Each day, the physicians and nurse practitioners on our Integrative and Palliative Medicine team live and breathe Gilchrist’s philosophy of supporting patients and families through serious illness.
As a nurse practitioner on the team, I evaluate patients and help manage symptoms such as pain and anxiety that often accompany advanced illnesses, with the goal of alleviating discomfort as much as possible.
Our team also helps patients and families struggling with end-of-life illness make complex healthcare decisions and navigate the healthcare system, which can be overwhelming when you have been given upsetting news. We may help them formulate advance care planning such as a Medical Power of Attorney, Maryland Orders for Life-sustaining Treatment (MOLST) and advance directives.
One Couple’s Experience With Integrative and Palliative Medicine
I recently met with a gentleman I will call Bill. Bill had just been told his prostate cancer had spread to his bones. Both he and his wife of many years were stunned and didn’t know what to do next. Bill’s physician recognized the couple’s anxiety and distress upon being told this devastating news. Fortunately, the physician requested a consult by the Integrative and Palliative Medicine team.
When I met Bill and his wife, I immediately sensed how distraught and terrified they both were after learning the cancer had spread. I listened and allowed them to share their concerns, fears and anxieties. I answered their questions and provided support to help them navigate the journey ahead.
Bill’s biggest fear was experiencing pain and losing his quality of life. I reassured him that there were many medications to help with his pain. I also explained the evidence-based treatments Gilchrist offers to help manage symptoms and enhance physical and emotional wellness. For example, mind-body techniques such as massage and Tai Chi could be integrated into his care plan.
Bill expressed his relief and gratitude to me that there would be support for both him and his wife throughout his illness.
Bill and his wife are just one example of how Integrative and Palliative Medicine can help break down the obstacles and barriers a serious illness can pose.
Where Are Gilchrist’s Integrative and Palliative Medicine Services Offered?
Gilchrist offers Palliative Care for individuals with serious illness at GBMC and Howard County Hospital, as well as five area Genesis nursing facilities. Our Integrative Medicine services are available to patients at GBMC receiving treatment for cancer.