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Palliative care

Palliative, or supportive, care is specialized care for people experiencing a serious, long-term and/or end-stage illness. It aims to provide patients and families with social support, pain management and relief from symptoms and also to help alleviate some of the stress associated with chronic disease.

At Great Plains Health, our palliative care team's goal is to improve the quality of life for both you and your family. Our doctors, nurses, case managers and other specialists work together to provide an extra layer of support, so you can feel better and enjoy your life more fully.

Who can benefit from palliative care?

We can offer palliative care to anyone with a serious illness, including:

  • People living with cancer, congestive heart failure, Alzheimer's disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory illnesses, kidney failure, and other life-threatening or end-stage conditions.
  • Frail, elderly people living with the advanced symptoms of aging.

It’s important to know that palliative care is different from hospice care. While hospice may fall under the larger umbrella of palliative care services, hospice is intended for people who are in the final months of a terminal illness and no longer choose to receive curative treatment. In fact, to qualify for hospice, a physician has to say that in their opinion, due to the nature of your advanced disease, you potentially only have six months to live. Alternatively, with palliative care, you can receive symptom relief and other support at any age and any stage of the disease, even while you are actively receiving treatment meant to cure or further manage your illness.

Our approach to palliative care

Our experienced providers have a passion for palliative care. The team includes:

  • Olivia Necola, MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician with extensive experience in the palliative care field.
  • Lori Barrett, APRN, who has trained at University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and has over five years of experience practicing palliative care with our patients—both inpatient and outpatient—as well as extensive outpatient internal medicine experience.
  • Stacey Coppersmith, PA-C, who has also trained at UNMC, and who has over seven years of experience on the outpatient side, working with our family medicine practice and seeing patients for outpatient palliative care.

We work closely with you and your referring doctor on a plan to relieve your symptoms and support you. This plan, which takes into account your personal goals and beliefs, may include:

  • Medications or other therapies to relieve symptoms like pain, nausea, or difficulty swallowing or breathing.
  • Help connecting you and your family to other resources, such as counseling or respite care.

We can provide palliative care consults and/or follow-up visits during a hospital stay or in an outpatient visit at our clinic. But we understand how difficult it can be to travel when you have a serious illness. So, if you need, we may be able to provide palliative care at your home, at a nursing care facility or at another Great Plains Health clinic where you're receiving care. We will work with you to help in any way we can.

Outpatient palliative care visits typically last at least 30 minutes, with initial visits lasting longer, and our providers encourage you to bring your family or other support persons to your appointments.

How to receive palliative care

A referral from your doctor is helpful, but not required, for you to receive palliative care.

For more information about the Great Plains Health palliative care program or to make an appointment, please call 308.568.7390.

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