Palliative Care

Meridian Care Journey Palliative Care Program
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness - whatever the diagnosis.

The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. 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. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment. (Center to Advance Palliative Care, 2011)

Palliative care teams are in place at each Meridian hospital. To order a palliative care consultation, place an order in the chart or call the inpatient team at the number below.

The individual hospital palliative care teams can be reached at:
Bayshore Community Hospital: 732-739-5960
Jersey Shore University Medical Center: 732-776-4546
Ocean Medical Center: 732-836-4041
Riverview Medical Center: 732-450-2728
Southern Ocean Medical Center: 609-978-8900 x2929

Raritan Bay Perth Amboy and Old Bridge Hospital: 732-324-3161; 732-324-3163

In addition, the Meridian Care Journey system-wide palliative care team sees patients at all Meridian Nursing and Rehabilitation facilities, at the Center for Integrated Palliative Medicine with 3 locations in Monmouth and Ocean counties, along with their Home-based Program. This is as a way to supplement the efforts of the inpatient palliative care teams. The goal is to take the palliative care plan outside the walls of the hospital and back into the community and to provide the patient with our continuum or care.

The Care Journey team will see the patient in the skilled nursing facility after discharge to make sure that the transition of care is smooth, appropriate medication changes are made and advanced directives are in place. The team will follow the patient on an ongoing basis in the facility, providing pain and non-pain symptom management, as well as psychosocial and spiritual support. Identified needs will be reported back to the primary physician.

Palliative care referrals are also available directly from within Meridian Nursing and Rehabilitation Facilities.

To order a palliative care consultation in a Meridian Nursing or Rehabilitation facility, simply place an order in the chart or call 732-202-8071. For a Homecare Referral, call the same number. In addition, the patient can also self-refer.

Palliative Care Defined
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness - whatever the diagnosis.

The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. 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. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment. (Center to Advance Palliative Care, 2011)

Indications for Palliative Care Referral Patients with advanced illnesses, including, but not limited to:

  • Cancer (Metastatic/Recurrent)
  • Advanced Cardiac Disease
  • Advanced COPD
  • Kidney Failure
  • Liver Failure
  • Dementia
  • Stroke
Patient with uncontrolled symptoms concurrent with their advanced illness, such as:
  • Difficult pain management issues
  • Uncontrolled dyspnea
  • Uncontrolled nausea/vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Progressive/profound weakness and fatigue
  • Dependency (unable to perform Activities of Daily Living)
Other indications for referral to palliative care for those patients with advanced illnesses:
  • Help with complex decision-making and determination of goals of care
  • Unmet psychosocial or spiritual issues
  • Support for family/caregivers
  • Conflict regarding goals of care
  • Frequent visits to the Emergency Department (more than once a month for the same diagnosis)
  • More than one hospital admission for the same diagnosis within 30 days
  • Prolonged length of stay (more than five days) without evidence of progress
  • Prolonged stay in ICU setting without evidence of progress
Common Misconceptions about Palliative Care
Myth: To qualify for palliative care, a patient must be dying. Reality: Palliative care is appropriate for patients at any stage of a serious illness, optimally at the time when a diagnosis is made.

Myth: Patients must give up all curative treatments to receive palliative care.
Reality: Palliative care is given along side curative treatments. For example, a patient may continue to receive chemotherapy or radiation while receiving palliative care.

Myth: Palliative care is synonymous with hospice care.
Reality: Unlike hospice care, patients receiving palliative care do not have to accept comfort care as the primary goal of treatment or have a prognosis of 6-months or less. Palliative care patients do not have to forgo curative treatment of their underlying disease or hospitalization for the disease.

Myth: If a patient chooses palliative care, they are giving up and will die more quickly.
Reality: Palliative care has not only been shown to improve quality of life, decrease the use of aggressive treatments at the end of life, and reduce depression, but it has also been shown to prolong life for patients with advanced lung cancer. There is research being done today on the effect of palliative care on the prognosis of patients with other serious illnesses.