St. Clair’s new Palliative Medicine program is already busy with referrals, says program director Jaime L. Nemeth, D.O. “We’re pleased to offer this service to any patient with a serious, chronic or life limiting illness,” says Dr. Nemeth. “This is new, so we have a blank slate to develop the best possible program. My focus is on developing the service and building relationships with primary care physicians, specialists and homecare providers. I want to inform them about what I do and what I have to offer them and their patients. I’m not a competitor, but a resource. My role is to bring things together in a way that is helpful to everyone involved: the patient, family, physician and other healthcare providers.
“Palliative and hospice care are generally linked, but that can be misleading,” Dr. Nemeth says. “Palliative and hospice care may overlap, but in general, hospice care is for the end of life, while palliative care can be provided at any time during illness, including during active treatment. Palliative care can be of great benefit to patients, well before end stage disease.”
Palliative care is appropriate for patients with serious or chronic conditions including diabetes, HIV/AIDS, dementia, COPD, heart failure or cancer. “A patient with a newly diagnosed condition that is likely to become chronic, complicated or eventually worse is a great referral for palliative care. We can help the patient navigate the healthcare system, handle transitions and manage symptoms and pain. Patients need to know that if they feel overwhelmed by their illness and are unsure of how to manage, they should ask their attending physician for a referral to me. Although most of the patients I see are older adults, there are no age limits.”
Dr. Nemeth majored in neuroscience and English literature at Allegheny College. She graduated from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed a residency in Family Medicine at Central Maine Medical Center. Dr. Nemeth completed a fellowship in palliative and hospice care at Maine Medical Center/VA Hospital. She is board certified in Family Medicine. Her interest in palliative care was shaped by personal experiences with loved ones and time spent volunteering in Uganda after medical school.