PAMF Adds Palliative Care Services in Palo Alto
Posted on Jul 20, 2012
Expanding on the successful Palliative Care services program launched at Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) Santa Cruz in 2011, PAMF has added Palliative Care services to its Palo Alto Center as of June 2012.
The PAMF Palliative Care team now includes a six-person group in Santa Cruz and five team members in Palo Alto. Services will be offered in the Mountain View area later this year, and the goal is to expand Palliative Care services to include San Mateo and Alameda counties in 2013.
Palliative Care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from pain, symptoms and stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis. Palliative Care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. This specialized medical service is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment.
Sharon Tapper, M.D., is Medical Director of PAMF’s Palliative Care program. Board certified in Hospice & Palliative Medicine and Internal Medicine, she serves as an Innovation Advisor for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s Innovation Advisors Program. She is also Chief of Staff of Dominican Hospital Palliative Care in Santa Cruz, and Medical Director of Dominical Hospital Palliative Care and Support Services.
“Our goal is to improve quality of life for both patients and their families,” said Dr. Tapper. “We offer a comprehensive palliative care and support services program that is both compassionate and coordinated to help manage each patient optimally.
“We plan to provide a system of interdisciplinary care that can identify patients with life-limiting illness in the last one to two years of life and offer them seamless case management as well as comprehensive Palliative Care,” Dr. Tapper said. “This care will include advanced care planning, symptom management, as well as care for any existential needs such as spiritual, social or psychological issues, including bereavement services.”
Palliative Care also yields financial benefits for the Medicare system. “Five percent of Medicare enrollees with the most serious illness account for more than 40 percent of Medicare expenditures,” said Dr. Tapper. “Palliative Care studies show a 45 decrease in cost and reduced Emergency Room visits and hospital stays. Concurrently, these studies also show increased patient satisfaction, improved symptom control and increased length of life.”
Under the direction of Dr. Tapper, the new Palliative Care Center, at 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, includes a coordinated Palliative Care Team – Steven Lai, M.D., a nurse practitioner, a social worker, a nurse liaison and a Palliative Care coordinator.
Additional Information on Palliative Care:
Your Guide to POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) -California’s resource page for consumers
Advance Health Care Directive (PAMF’s information and resources page for AHCDs)
Coalition for Compassionate Care of California (POLST, AHCD, DNR)
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