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Supportive & Palliative Care

Importance of Palliative & Supportive Care in the Community

By: MaryAnn Fragola, DNP, ANPc, ACHPN

Palliative care is often misconstrued as end-of-life or hospice care, this is not the case. It is an important element of cancer care and provides patients with extra support. It is about supporting a patient through any chronic illness throughout their treatment, no matter what path they may be on. It requires coordination with physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, psychologists and other support staff. Unlike hospice, patients can receive palliative support, to alleviate side effects caused by treatment and also pursue additional curative treatment options.

A patient’s quality of life is of utmost importance in oncology. Newer treatment modalities are allowing patients to live longer. However, these treatments often impact their quality of life and have the potential to cause ongoing side effects.

Ensuring a patient’s quality of life has a positive impact on both the patient and the caregiver. A palliative care program may include: treating symptoms, managing emotional and social needs, addressing spiritual and practical concerns, and addressing caregiver’s needs. It also seeks to provide the patient’s families with additional support.

Palliative and supportive care at NYCBS enhances the quality of care we already provide. A study on the effects of palliative care for patients found that starting it soon after a diagnosis of metastatic cancer increases a patient’s coping abilities and quality of life. Additional goals may include advanced care planning, identifying patient’s wishes, and symptom management.

I became involved in cancer care at 16, volunteering for a hospice program. Over the years, I have been blessed with having many wonderful experiences with both patients and families. However, it is much different caring for someone close. In the past six years, I unfortunately lost my father to cancer. My mother has also undergone cancer treatment, but she thankfully is doing well. As I stood beside my parents on their journey, I understood how patients and families depend on a provider. My experience has given me insight to provide the care I would expect for my family. The empathy I feel for my patients and their loved ones has inspired me to provide unmatched care, which I pledge to deliver every day.