Death and Dying
3:40 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Palliative Care a Holistic Complement for Terminal Patients

We continue our series on death and dying in the 21st century by turning our attention today to the growing field of palliative care. This kind of medicine actively cares for people with life-threatening and terminal diseases, working to effectively transition between treatments focused on a cure to managing symptoms in order to maximize quality of life and respect patient wishes.

How does palliative care fit into broader medical treatments for patients with life-threatening and terminal diseases?
How does palliative care fit into broader medical treatments for patients with life-threatening and terminal diseases?
Credit Photo by Mrs. Logic, via Flickr

Beginning in the early 90s, the field grew out of the hospice movement to fill a gap in care for dying patients who weren't ready or didn't yet qualify for hospice. Wisconsin's own Dr. David Weissman was instrumental in the growth of the palliative care movement. He started the Palliative Care Center - a joint venture between the Medical College of Wisconsin and Froedert Hospital - almost twenty years ago.

Now, neurologist Dr. Wendy Peltier is the latest director of the Center. She says this form of care is more than just pain management - it also includes counseling families, advising doctors, and addressing the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of a patient to reach their goals at the end of life. She tells Lake Effect's Stephanie Lecci how this area of medicine has grown.

Peltier is also an associate professor in the departments of Neurology and Medicine.