An experienced physician can predict, diagnose and treat illness using a wide array of physiological therapies, but patients often experience symptoms that are not strictly physiological – there are often psychological, social, or spiritual symptoms to respond to as well.
Palliative Care is the comprehensive care and management of the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of patients with chronic, debilitating or life threatening/life-limiting illness and their families. It is a common misconception that Palliative Care is only for the terminally ill; in reality, Palliative Care is for people of any age, and at any stage in an illness, whether that illness is curable, chronic or life-threatening.
Palliative Care has its roots in the hospice movement in the mid 20th century, but the philosophy of whole patient care (rather than care that is focused simply on a disease) is now widely practiced outside of traditional hospice care. The first hospital-based palliative care programs in the US began in the late 1980s at a handful of institutions like the Cleveland Clinic and the Medical College of Wisconsin. With more than 1200 hospital based programs in the US started since then, the palliative care movement has received growing attention from the mainstream of medicine.
Palliative Care is a specialized service offered by a team of trained staff and is complementary to other therapies available and appropriate to the identified goals of care. The interdisciplinary team, which often includes a social worker, a counselor and/or a chaplain, can play a role in helping the patient and family cope globally with all the symptoms relating to their condition, rather than depending on physiological interventions alone. As Director of Palliative Care at Glendale Memorial Hospital, Dr. Webber is recognized as a leader in this area, which combines his extensive medical experience with his deep compassion for his patients.