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Palliative Care

Serious illness can be overwhelming. The UNC Palliative Care Program offers care to help you through a difficult time.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative Care enhances physical comfort, emotional and spiritual well-being, and quality of life for patients with serious illness, and for their loved ones.

How can Palliative Care help?

Our Palliative Care team includes doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists and chaplains who offer—

  • Treatment if you have symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea, anxiety or fatigue
  • Support if you feel emotional or spiritual distress
  • Help if you need to make difficult treatment decisions, to ensure medical care matches your goals and values
  • Information and guidance if you need supportive services to help after leaving the hospital

How does the Palliative Care team work with my doctors?

The Palliative Care team doesn’t take over — we are an added layer of support and coordination offered to people facing the challenges of serious illness. Our team will work with your doctors to coordinate care.

Is Palliative Care like Hospice?

No. Though Palliative Care and Hospice teams help with comfort and quality of life — they are different. Palliative Care is in hospitals and clinics; Hospice teams usually visit patients at or near home. Palliative Care can be combined with treatment that might cure or reduce the effects of the primary illness; Hospice is usually available after those treatments end.

Does insurance cover Palliative Care?

Most insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover Palliative Care. Our team sees all patients in need, even those without insurance.

Palliative Care Consult Service

Palliative Care consults are available on all inpatient adult services.

Patients with serious or life-limiting illness and their families can benefit from the consult service if they have one or more of the following:
  • Pain or other troublesome physical symptoms
  • Emotional, psychological or spiritual suffering
  • Concerns about difficult treatment decisions
  • Coordination of care and treatments among doctors and nurses at all stages of an illness
  • Complex care needs that make it difficult leaving the hospital
Patients who are served include adult inpatients on the following services: critical care, family medicine, general medicine, geriatrics, gynecology, neurology, oncology, psychology, rehabilitation medicine, and surgery.

Supportive Care Consult Service and Clinic

Supportive care is medical care focused on maintaining quality of life and managing symptoms for patients who are being treated for cancer. Supportive care programs focus on outpatients receiving care for cancer and are often associated with palliative care programs but also include patients who are having symptoms related to their treatment or those who are survivors, which are not the usual patients seen by palliative care.

The Supportive Care Consult Service and Clinic is designed to aid oncology patients and their loved ones with the following:
  • Pain
  • Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, anxiety, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, or shortness of breath
  • Emotional, psychological, or spiritual suffering
  • Nutritional problems
  • Concern about medical decisions
  • Difficulty communicating values, goals, and personal choices
The Supportive Care Consult Service and Clinic serves patients from all adult outpatient oncology services, including medicine, surgery, gynecology, and radiation oncology. The service addresses symptoms or concerns that arise from either the disease process or from its treatment.

Pediatric Palliative Care Consult Service

Palliative care for children is focused on relieving suffering and improving quality of life.

The Children's Supportive Care Team is designed to aid children with serious illness and their families with the following:
  • Pain and symptom management
  • Complex decision-making
  • Parent and sibling support
  • End of life planning
  • Bereavement care for families

Contact Us

  • Adults in UNC Hospitals or Clinics call 919-843-4096
  • Adults in UNC Cancer Clinics call 984-974-8110
  • Parents of children in NC Children’s Hospital call 919-966-1055

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