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Palliative Care Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What is palliative care?

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.

Palliative care allows the best quality of life by providing patients with relief from: symptoms, pain, loss of function, and stress caused by serious illnesses. Some conditions we may treat include:

  • Dementia, Parkinson’s disease
  • Heart disease/Congestive Heart Failure
  • Renal disease
  • Lung disease/COPD
  • Neurologic conditions (ALS, MS, CVA)
  • Malignancies
  • Any serious illness, regardless if it is curable, chronic, or life threatening

Why did my doctor consult palliative care?

Your doctor may request a palliative care consultation for you to assist with:

  • Treatments to relieve symptoms: Expert treatment for relief of pain and other bothersome symptoms, such as; shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, decreased appetite, and others.
  • Emotional and spiritual support for the patient and family: Living with a serious illness can be frightening, isolating and stressful for all involved. Palliative care helps communication and support to one another throughout an illness.
  • Guidance on medical information and treatment options: Information regarding illness and treatment options can be overwhelming and confusing. Palliative care can help coordinate health information and care providers in a way that helps individuals define and achieve their personal goals for care.

What is the difference between palliative care and hospice care?

Palliative care vs. hospice care

Adapted from: National Quality Forum, 2014

Palliative care is whole-person care that relieves symptoms of a disease or disorder, whether or not it can be cured. Hospice is a specific type of palliative care for people who likely have six months or less to live. In other words, hospice care is always palliative, but not all palliative care is hospice care.

Who is on the palliative care team?

The palliative care team is made up of the following individuals and resources:

  • Board certified doctors
  • Advanced practice registered nurses
  • Social workers
  • Chaplains
  • Nurses
  • Nutritionists
  • Occupational/Physical therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Psychologist
  • Others

Can I keep my same doctor?

Yes, palliative care does not replace your primary physician or team. We're added support for you and your team.

How do I get palliative care?

Ask your primary doctor/team for a palliative care consult or call 843-792-6062.


In the News

October 13, 2016
Parents say Special Goodbye to Baby Girl

Steve and Jill Williams snuggle with baby Charlotte on a bed brought in for them by the Palliative Care team.

August 8, 2016

Palliative care team sets national example in Videos

Jeremy Rowan prepares to videotape social workers Kate Rowan, center, and Mary Catherine Dubois while ELNEC's Polly Mazanec, right, discusses their plans. 

December 17, 2015
'Magic in the hallways' at MUSC leads to wedding
Mike Watson didn't want to let his illness keep him from marrying the woman he loves. Neither did MUSC's palliative care team, which specializes in making magical moments happen.

November 12, 2015
Bioethicist uses personal experience to help families in crisis
Dr. David Schenck uses his training in ethics, religion and philosophy to help families make ethical decisions for loved ones.

November 11, 2015
Have you had the conversation?
Palliative care social worker Mary Catherine Dubois helps families deal with complicated medical issues.