Palliative Care Program
Helping patients live as well as possible for as long as possible
Medical Center Cancer Institute collaborates closely with the Palliative Care Program. The program works with adult inpatients, referred by their attending physician, to help relieve the burdensome physical, emotional and psychosocial symptoms from which patients with advanced or chronic disease often suffer. Palliative medicine focuses on helping the patient live as well as possible for as long as possible by providing pain and symptom control, clarifying the patient's goals for medical treatment, and helping the patient and family navigate the healthcare system.
MMC joins a growing number of hospitals and academic institutions worldwide that have established palliative care programs. These programs have been shown to increase patient and family satisfaction, decrease hospital costs and, most importantly, improve patient outcomes by supporting the goals of care established by the patient and his or her family.
The specialty of palliative care was formalized in 1995 when the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (ABHPM) was created to establish and measure the level of knowledge and skills required to certify physicians who practice it. In 2006, the American Board of Medicine Specialties (ABMS) voted to grant Hospice and Palliative Medicine a subspecialty status. This move acknowledged palliative medicine as a distinct field of knowledge and expertise, like cardiology, oncology, and orthopedics, and recognizes its value in patient care.
The MMC Palliative Care Program staffing includes board-certified physicians in palliative medicine, along with advanced practice nurses, social workers, and an administrative coordinator. The clinicians provide inpatient consultations at MMC. Maine Medical Center also recently developed the Outpatient Palliative Care and Supportive Care Clinic to better meet the needs of patients in the outpatient setting. The clinic takes place in the outpatient facility in Scarborough at 100 Campus Drive, Suite 121.
For adults with cancer, the Palliative Care Program works in a consultative capacity with primary care physicians, oncology specialists and other members of the patient's healthcare team including nursing, pain anesthesia, pharmacy, chaplaincy and social work. Additional expertise is sought, as needed, from nutritionists, respiratory therapists, hospice and home health providers, care coordinators and MMC's American Cancer Society Patient Navigator.
Through this interdisciplinary approach, the palliative care team helps the clinical team to care for the patient - giving him or her the resources needed to live as fully as possible with a health problem that won't go away. These resources include:
- Pain and symptom management
- Help in facilitating communication among all involved in the patient's care
- Assistance in establishing goals of care consistent with each patient's cultural, social and ethical values
- Help in advocating with the healthcare team to ensure that the patient's emotional and psychosocial needs are integrated into the care plan
- Active participation in multi-disciplinary tumor boards
Inpatient consultations can be made directly by the primary care physician or specialist providing care at MMC through a Physician's Order.
Administrative offices for the Palliative Care Program are located at the following address.
Maine Medical Center
22 Bramhall Street, Room 4670
Portland, ME 04102
For any palliative care needs please contact 207-662-3500 for more information or to make an inpatient or outpatient referral.