A Physician Group Serving Alameda Health System

Palliative Care Consult Service Comforts Patients, Families

Team provides extra layer of support for patients
with serious illnesses


Palliative Care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness –whatever the patient's diagnosis or age. ACMC's Palliative Care Consult Service focuses on inpatients and their families as they cope with the challenges presented by the advanced stages of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, liver disease, diabetes and dementia.

Dr. Sheira Freedman, Director of Palliative Services at ACMC, believes all patients deserve expert care that maintains their dignity whatever the stage of their illness. So for her, establishing and growing the Palliative Care Consult Service is a labor of love.

According to Sheira, "Our team's goal is to wrap an extra layer of care around our patients and their families. We want to relieve patients' suffering and provide them with the best possible quality of life. We meet patients where they are; if they are not yet ready to give up on treatment, we can help them get the most effective care; or guide them to hospice if disease directed care would no longer be helpful. Studies have shown that many recipients of palliative care actually live longer and have lower stress levels than people who don't."

ACMC's Palliative Care Consult Service team members pictured at right are: Jessica Zitter, MD, Attending Physician; Anne James, LCSW, Social Worker; Reverend Betty Clark, MDIV, Chaplain; Linda Bulman, PA, Palliative Care Coordinator; and Sheira Freedman, MD, Director of Palliative Services. Not pictured are Claudia Landau, PhD, MD, Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Care and Seth Holmes, PhD, MD, Attending Physician.

The Palliative Care Consult Service is an interdisciplinary team. They work together to relieve pain and other physical symptoms, initiate discussions about care goals, assist with talking about difficult subjects with families, help guide patients through complex treatment choices, and provide emotional and spiritual support.

"We learn so much from our patients and their families through our service to them," said Sheira. "We have such diversity here and not only is every culture's response to serious illness unique, but every family within each culture reacts differently and has different needs. We make use of our supportive curiosity to discover what is important to each patient and their family, we never assume we know."

Reaction to the Palliative Care Consult Service's work has been very positive from patients, families and caregivers. Now, Sheira and her team are exploring ways to expand the service to outpatients.

The team would like to expand the number of people who are trained to guide, support and comfort our patients and their families. They are offering Palliative Care training to other caregivers at ACMC as well as online courses (Click here for more information on HEN or to log in) and are just beginning to put together a volunteer component to the service. If you or someone you know may be interested in volunteering please contact Marinor Protacio at 4-6566.




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OakCare Medical Group provides the highest quality care to the Alameda Health System and the people of Alameda County in fulfillment of it's dual mission of delivering comprehensive health services and training new physicians.

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