Palliative Care Does Not Prevent Patients From Receiving Curative Treatment


The chair of the Institute of Pain and Palliative Care explains how the holistic approach of palliative care makes it a unique treatment modality.

Palliative care functions by treating people “as a whole,” explains Joe Contreras, MD. Although many patients may believe that they are not able to undergo curative or active treatment and simultaneously receive palliative care, that is not the case, he says.

In an interview with Oncology Nursing News®, Contreras, chair of the Institute of Pain and Palliative Care at Hackensack Meridian Health, highlights how palliative care is both similar to and different from other specialties of medicine.

“What makes it unique is [that] it's really focused on the well-being of the person in the setting of serious illness. We approach it holistically—mind, body, and spirit. It's not as simple as thinking, ‘Well, what is a nephrologist? They treat kidneys, diseases of the kidneys, or a pulmonologist? They treat diseases of the lung.’ We treat the person as a whole, and we're interested in the wholeness being preserved in the setting of serious illness. Those people who do respond then do extremely well and, therefore, it's like having any other specialty onboard,” he said.

“You may also have a team of care specialists on board and that doesn't stop you from continuing to receive treatment from all 3 specialists. You have the same rights; you have the same insurance benefits—it's billed like any other specialty of medicine.”

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