Palliative (Comfort) Care at Cayuga Medical
People with chronic, serious
illness are living longer these days. But are they living better?
At the heart of palliative care is
a passionate commitment to make you as comfortable as possible at each stage of
your illness, whether you are undergoing curative treatment or not; whether you
are at home or in the hospital.
Our Palliative Care Team mission is
to relieve suffering and improve quality of life at any age, at any stage, and
in any setting from the point of diagnosis forward -- at the same time you are
undergoing treatment for advanced, chronic, or multiple illnesses.
Our goal is to augment the
treatment plan of your primary care doctor by focusing on symptom control and
care planning. This, in turn, allows your doctor to concentrate on
Our multidisciplinary team of
physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and bereavement counselors works
under the direction of Dr. Eric Lessinger, who is
board certified in hospice and palliative care, family practice, and
geriatrics. He also serves as medical director of Hospicare
and Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County. Since many of our patients
move back and forth between Hospicare and Cayuga
Medical Center, this collaboration serves our patients and their families well.
We realize that palliative care is
a relatively new subspecialty in this country; many people outside of the
medical community do not fully understand what palliative care is. The following
links answer some common questions about palliative care.
● How is palliative
care practiced at Cayuga Medical Center?
● What is the role of the
Palliative Care Team?
palliative care a medical subspecialty or a philosophy of care?
the difference between palliative care and hospice (end-of-life) care?
How is palliative care practiced at Cayuga Medical Center?
Palliative care is a continuum of
care designed to meet the medical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients
with chronic or progressive illnesses such as cancer, neuromuscular disease,
renal failure, and advanced cardiopulmonary disease.
At Cayuga Medical Center,
palliation is an integral aspect of the hospital experience. This approach
helps us look at the overarching needs of patients and their families and is
the type of care patients and families want and deserve. We specialize in
managing symptoms, including effective relief of pain.
What is the role of the Palliative Care Team?
In the hospital setting, our
clients are doctors; we act as their consultants. Palliative care specialists
have expertise not only in pain and symptom control, but also in the
psychosocial issues that are a part of chronic and terminal illness. We have
two goals: to help doctors who are dealing with difficult, complicated cases
and, in so doing, to help patients and families.
Is palliative care a medical subspecialty or a philosophy of care?
Palliative care is a medical
subspecialty and a continuous
sequence of care. We help doctors and their patients address serious issues
before they enter the end-of-life phase. People who are chronically ill may
have difficulty with pain, eating, sleeping, or going to the bathroom. We can
help improve your quality of life with total respect for the wishes of you and
The Palliative Care Team does not
bring an agenda to the family. Instead, we try to give you information about
the likely outcomes of various treatments and work in collaboration with your
doctors. And then we work through your goals with you. If you are a cancer
patient who wants to pursue long-term therapy, our role is to support the
decision and help you manage your symptoms and the issues related to family,
work, and lifestyle that are all part of being ill.
What’s the difference between palliative care and hospice (end-of-life)
Hospice care is focused on caring
for patients and keeping them comfortable at the end stage of illness.
Palliative care is about symptom management at any stage of illness. Our
multidisciplinary team is also very skilled at helping to ease transitions as
you move from one care setting to another – from home to the hospital. In our
work, we collaborate very closely with the experienced caregivers from Hospicare and Palliative Care Services.
Palliative care provides an
opportunity for families to reflect: to look at patient care with people who
are comfortable and experienced with looking at these issues and who can help
you consider the big picture.