What is Hospice and Palliative Medicine?
Palliative medicine is a form of specialized medical care for patients with serious, life-limiting illnesses (cancer, CHF, COPD, ALS, Alzheimer’s dementia, and others). It focuses on improving a patient’s quality of life by managing distressing symptoms such as pain, dyspnea, anxiety, and others. Palliative medicine also helps to align a patient’s treatment goals with what is important to them while supporting them during the stress of a life-limiting illness.
Hospice is a specialized form of palliative medicine that is given in the last six months of life. Hospice can be provided in a patient’s home or in other facilities such as skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, and hospice facilities.
Recognizing the need and importance of a palliative medicine consult service, Dr. Patrick Rice and others created the UPMC Altoona Palliative Medicine Consult Service in October 2010. They performed 44 consults during that first year, and the service has expanded significantly since then: we are on pace for nearly 1,000 inpatient consults in 2017!
The UPMC Altoona Family Physicians Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship started in 2013. We are dually-accredited (ACGME and AOA) and function within Altoona Family Physicians. The program offers a variety of clinical rotations with an innovative and comprehensive curriculum. Fellows see a wide array of patients with various diagnoses that prepare them for a career in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Fellows are eligible to obtain board certification in hospice and palliative medicine following completion of their training program.