Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital has added palliative care to its range of services.

The hospital began offering the specialty in October and has held 146 palliative care consultations since then, according to Claudia Bohn, communications and public relations director for Methodist Health System.

“There has been a need for quite a while at Jennie Edmundson, and I think there’s a need at all hospitals,” said Jenna Eich, nurse practitioner and palliative care team lead.

Palliative care is for people with complex, life-limiting illness, according to the health system’s website. Patients who may benefit include those with cancer, dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney failure, liver failure, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and stroke.

Often, palliative care patients have cancer and are experiencing a lot of symptoms, Eich said. The palliative nurse is called in when the family wants to discuss what kind of care is needed.

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“We help support the family in honoring their loved one’s wishes,” she said. “We work closely with the social worker, care manager and other providers who care for the patient.”

Eich is one of 14 providers of palliative and hospice care in Methodist Health System.

“We have experience assisting patients and their families with identifying medical treatment decisions and goals, and we can assist with pain and symptom management,” she said. “Whatever their needs, we aim to help patients and families preserve and improve their quality of life. Palliative care can help decrease the length of hospital stays and can reduce the chance of re-hospitalization.”

The services are available to inpatients at Jennie three days a week, at an outpatient clinic at Methodist Hospital or via telehealth, Eich said.

“We physically don’t go out into their home,” she said.

Palliative care is not the same as hospice care, Eich said.

“Hospice and palliative care can differ in that you can receive palliative care and continue with life-prolonging or curative care,” she said. “When the patient doesn’t want any more curative care, it becomes hospice care.”

Palliative care helps patients feel like their needs are being met, Eich said.

“There just seems to be a sense of relief once they have had a chance to meet their palliative care provider,” she said. “Once they begin to trust us and see the results of palliative care, they have less apprehension.”

To reach the palliative care outpatient clinic at Methodist Hospital, call 402-354-6530.

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