FRANKLIN — Lisa Withrow, APRN is co-founder of Palliativity Medical Group, providing care for people living with serious or chronic illness.
Franklin VNA & Hospice: Please tell us a little bit about Palliativity Medical Group and why palliative care is something you feel so passionate about.
Lisa Withrow: Palliativity is a first-of-its kind privately owned outpatient palliative care medical practice, providing specialized medical care for people living with serious or chronic illness. We focus heavily on increasing the quality of life for our clients and their families by managing physical and existential pain, as well as many other symptoms of their acute and chronic illness. We opened Palliativity after seeing my patients being readmitted to the hospital repeatedly because their symptoms were not adequately managed in the outpatient setting.
Franklin VNA: What are some of the reasons that patients might seek out palliative care? Or why might a primary care or other specialty provider recommend palliative care to them?
Withrow: The palliative care approach is designed to help manage symptoms and help patients and their families exercise more control over their care by improving their understanding of the choices for treatment. That being said, many of our patients have sought care from Palliativity due to uncontrolled symptoms such as shortness of breath, pain, nausea and vomiting, constipation and diarrhea effects from treatment, profound fatigue, anxiety, restlessness and delirium. It is common for a primary care or other specialty provider to recommend referral to palliative care, as we work in tandem with other providers and can usually provide more time to address the patients’ symptom complexities. We are trained to manage symptoms through conventional medications and unlabeled uses for some medications as well as utilizing alternative methodologies.
Franklin VNA: Your office is based in Bedford, but you have a whole mobile clinic which I think is so exciting, especially when I see you parked in the Franklin VNA & Hospice parking lot to see patients in this area. Can you tell us a little bit about why you felt it was important to have a mobile unit?
Withrow: We see patients in a variety of venues; in the office, facility, and in the patient’s home. Our patients’ mobility and ability to get to their appointments has been on the decline as their medical needs have not. Having our mobile unit in their residence or community, especially in the heat of summer or dead of winter has been a peace of mind for our patients and their loved ones. The Palliativity Medical Group mobile unit was born after we experienced numerous requests to increase our service area.
Franklin VNA: How do you think palliative care connects with hospice services especially in the home health setting?
Withrow: We work with the patient’s medical providers and VNA staff. Palliative care helps to provide a seamless transition for those who are nearing the end of their life. Conversely, some patients may experience a plateau in their health instead of the continued decline expected in Hospice. For those patients who are signed off hospice, palliative care can provide a seamless transition for that as well.
Franklin VNA: If people are considering a palliative care provider, or have more questions about palliative care, what should they be asking? What should you look for in a good palliative care provider?
Withrow: How can you help me feel better? How can you improve the quality of my life? A palliative care provider should be easy to talk with and should be experienced in complex symptom management.
Franklin VNA: Is there anything else you feel that it's important for people to know about Palliativity or palliative care in general?
Withrow: Palliative care is specialized medical care focusing on providing relief of symptoms and stress of a life-changing injury or chronic or serious illness. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a chronic or serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment. Palliative care is based on need, not prognosis. At Palliativity, we work diligently to provide individualized care for every patient.