About Palliative Medicine

Cancer Answer Line: 866.223.8100

Cancer Answer Line:

866.223.8100

The need for a healing touch continues even after a cure is no longer possible.

What is Palliative Medicine?

Palliative medicine is comprehensive medical care for patients with life threatening disease that focuses on control of cancer symptoms, management of complications, and quality of life. It cares for patients and their families and treats the cancer symptoms of body, mind and spirit. It is most successful when done with a multidisciplinary team approach to treating the cancer symptoms.

What are the goals of Palliative Medicine?

  • To provide excellent care of patients and their families dealing with advanced disease throughout the illness and during bereavement
  • To advocate effectively for patient comfort, dignity and choice

Who needs Palliative Medicine?

  • People experiencing pain or other cancer symptoms
  • People with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), AIDS, heart failure, chronic lung disease or other serious illness experiencing symptoms or repeated hospitalizations
  • Patients or families dealing with the stress of a life threatening illness and cancer symptoms

What does a Palliative Medicine team do for my family and me?

We strive to help people live as well as they can despite their illness and to cope with cancer symptoms. We focus on controlling any cancer symptoms that may be interfering in the quality of life, defining goals for any subsequent treatment, and maintaining the best physical and emotional well-being possible despite complex problems. The medical specialist functions as the quarterback of a team, including the patient and the family in what can be difficult decisions. Family conferences are routinely held to ensure that everyone involved is aware of and involved in the plan of care.

Who is on the team?

  • The patient and the family
  • The referring physician
  • The palliative medicine physician
  • Registered nurses
  • Physician assistants
  • Dietitians
  • Social workers
  • Chaplains
  • Music and art therapist
  • Home health aides
  • Trained volunteers

What services are provided?

Cancer Symptom Control: There is no need for anyone to suffer from uncontrolled pain, nausea or dyspnea (shortness of breath). Medical science knows how to effectively control these cancer symptoms most of the time. Making sure this happens is one of the primary goals of this program.

Case Management: People with serious illness often have many doctors involved in their care making. It is difficult to determine who to contact when a problem occurs. In this program, each patient has a registered nurse case manager assigned. That person is then a link to all other caregivers and available after hours.

The Harry R. Horvitz Center: Most people can be managed in an outpatient setting, but in crisis, this 23-bed inpatient unit is available for comprehensive multidisciplinary care.

Inpatient Consultation Service: Comprehensive assessment and management of symptoms in other areas of the hospital is provided to ensure maximum comfort for all hospitalized patients. The attending physician must request this service.

Outpatient Clinic: Specialty follow-up and consultation are available in this clinic. Nurse case managers maintain contact with their patients in this setting also.

Home Care and Hospice: As people become more ill they may need assistance at home which can be provided by Cleveland Clinic Home Care Ventures. As end of life approaches, the Hospice of the Cleveland Clinic is available at home for the special multidisciplinary care so critical at this time of life. Inpatient hospice care in the community is also available. Continuity is maintained throughout with the staff of the Palliative Medicine Program.

What is special about the Harry R. Horvitz Center?

Dr. Declan Walsh first developed the program at the Cleveland Clinic in 1988. At that time nothing of its kind existed in the United States. It still remains one of the few fully integrated programs in this country. In 1991 it was recognized by the World Health Organization as “a unique model of a much needed service” and designated a WHO Demonstration Project. The program had the first endowed chairs in Palliative Medicine in the USA.

The 23-bed inpatient unit was built in memory of Harry R. Horvitz, lifelong resident of Cleveland, recognized by his friends and associates as a man of integrity and compassion. The unit consists of the following facilities:

  • 13 private patient rooms
  • 5 semi-private patient rooms
  • Family lounge
  • Glass enclosed solarium
  • Family dining room
  • Donor recognition area

Research

The Harry R. Horvitz Center for Palliative Medicine also conducts important cancer research and educational programs in pain management, symptom control and nutrition. Donations made to the Harry R. Horvitz Center for Palliative Medicine are allocated for this vital research.

Advances made at the Cleveland Clinic have minimized unwanted side effects of treatment and enhanced quality of life for patients with advanced disease and painful cancer symptoms.

Cancer Answers & Appointments

Speak with a cancer nurse specialist for appointment assistance and for answers to your questions about cancer locally at 216.444.7923 or toll-free 1.866.223.8100.

Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (ET).

Referrals

Resources for medical professionals

  • Outpatient appointment referrals: 216.444.7923 or 866.223.8100
  • Inpatient hospital transfers: 800.553.5056
  • Referring Physician Concierge: 216.444.6196 or 216.312.4910.

Clinical Trials

Search available cancer clinical trials by disease, hospital, phase or number.

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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