Palliative Care at GMC

Definition of Palliative Care

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stress they may experience related to their diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for the patient, family, and loved ones. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment (CAPC).

At Gwinnett Medical Center, our palliative care team includes physicians, nurse practitioners and chaplaincy specialists. Together with your doctor and the health care team, we make sure that you receive an extra layer of support that includes:

  • Relief from pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, anxiety, and other distressing symptoms 
  • Ongoing communication with you and your family or loved ones regarding your illness, options for treatment, and personal goals to match your options that are available.
  • Coordination of your care among all of your health care providers
  • Improved ability to carry on with daily life
  • Emotional, practical and spiritual support for you and your family

Resources for Patients and Families

Georgia Advance Directive: This document is an easy form that can be completed without the presence or signature of a medical professional.  It allows you express your Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (someone who speaks for you only if you are unable to speak for yourself) and provides guidance for your loved ones and the medical team for your healthcare preferences. You do not need an attorney to complete this form.  

The Conversation Project:This website introduces the conversation regarding medical treatment and a person’s wishes regarding end of life decisions.

Georgia POLST: Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is a medical order that aims to enable seriously ill patients to designate the treatments they want and to ensure that medical professionals honor those preferences. This is to be completed by you and your physician together.

Five Wishes (Aging with Dignity): This website will guide through difficult topics to discuss treatment options and patient’s wishes during a serious illness.   

Common Reasons for a Palliative Care Consult

  • Disease Education: The team will meet with the patient and family or loved ones to discuss the current stage or progression of illness. What treatment options are available and answer any questions. Any decisions made by the patient or family will be relayed to the healthcare team.
  • Symptom Management: Symptoms such as pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, and depression are examples of the symptoms that palliative care addresses.
  • Goals of Care and Family Meetings: The Palliative Care Team will attempt to gather family members to help patients coordinate their treatment preferences and resources needed after discharge. We will also answer any questions that family members have with the patient’s approval.
  • Advance Directives: Having an Advanced Directive is a gift for loved ones of the patient. This document will provide the patient’s wishes in writing and designate a Durable Power of Attorney (to speak for the patient if the patient cannot speak for himself). The Palliative Care Team will provide the Georgia Advance Directive and explain the process of filling it out while answering any questions.

1,387 patients were supported by the Gwinnett Medical Center Palliative Care Team last year.