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Palliative Care on the Rise: February 5, 2012

With a focus on comfort, palliative care is becoming increasingly more common as a means to help people suffering from a serious illness.

“Palliative care is an interdisciplinary medicine usually composing a physician, nurse, chaplain and social worker that works to support and provide care for quality of life,” says Dr. Sherika Newman, a palliative care physician with Lee Memorial Health System.

The holistic approach doesn’t attempt to cure an illness; it’s directed at relieving symptoms and stress that accompany disease. It works through all stages of a patient’s process.

“They can still be getting treatment for say heart disease, progressing well and we would still be able to see them in the palliative setting for any ancillary support they may need,” says Dr. Newman.

A recent study ranked this country’s palliative care accessibility. Nationwide there is an upward trend since 2008. Overall, the U.S. received a grade of B.

Florida is ranked above average, also earning a B grade. More than half the hospitals statewide have palliative care teams. Lee Memorial Health System is part of that majority and recently added a second doctor to its team.

“Even in my time of being in palliative care it has steadily increased and I’ve seen a number of patients once they learn of it request it and really lock into it once they’re provided the service,” says Dr. Newman.

With this added support, patient care is focused on their life, not their disease.

“It brings comfort to them just to know I have someone listening, managing and helping navigate me through it,” says Dr. Newman.

Delivering top grade, compassionate care when it’s needed most.