Pain and Palliative Care Service

palliative care services at NWHServing communities throughout Greater Boston, the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Pain and Palliative Care Service provides consultations for acute pain management and palliative care for hospitalized patients.

Palliative Care
Palliative Care is specialized medical care for people with serious, life-limiting conditions. The goal of palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering, improve the patient’s quality of life, and to provide the best care possible to patients and their families while faced with a serious illness.

The Pain and Palliative Care Team is multidisciplinary and includes the specialized skills of physicians, nurse practitioners, a social worker and a chaplain who all work together with the patient’s other health care providers to offer an extra layer of support, while focusing on:

Symptoms: Patients with serious illness often have debilitating symptoms such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath, anxiety, constipation, depression, and/or fatigue. Our team has expert knowledge to assist with managing these and other symptoms. In addition to physical symptoms, we care for the patient as a whole person, and explore emotional, social and spiritual needs as we understand how these factors can significantly impact a patient and family facing serious illness.

Enhanced Communication: Our team will partner with patients, families, and other doctors/health care providers in the hospital to help with communication, so that we can align treatment options with a patient’s goals. We spend the time needed to ensure a patient and family understand their illness and options, so that a truly informed decision can be made about the direction a patient’s care should take.

Improved Transitions of Care: Our team works very closely with the Care Coordination team to help patients find the right services after discharge that are consistent with their goals, creating a seamless continuum of care across a range of clinical settings.

Palliative care can be used when a patient is receiving treatment for a disease, as well as during the time when there are no longer curative treatment options.

Palliative Care Consults
When a palliative care consult is requested for a patient in the hospital, the specialist physician or nurse practitioner conducts a detailed review of the patient’s medical record, and speaks with other physicians and caregivers involved in the patient’s current care. Team members will then meet with the patient and/or family to discuss and review a variety of topics including symptoms, knowledge of disease process, quality of life, treatment options, and goals of the patient and/or family. We then communicate our findings back to the referring physician and other involved clinical specialists.

Inpatient Pain Management Consultation
When the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Pain Clinic moved off campus in 2013, the inpatient Acute Pain Service merged with the Palliative Care Service to form the Pain and Palliative Care Service. The Pain and Palliative Care Service provides inpatient consultations to a variety of patients with complex pain management needs. The Pain and Palliative Care Service also works closely with the Department of Anesthesia to meet the interventional pain needs of our patients. Consults are requested by the supervising physician overseeing the patient’s care in the hospital. Examples for which an acute pain service consult may be requested include:

  • Patients whose pain is not improving with standard treatments
  • Patients having surgery who are at high risk for pain management problems after surgery
  • Patients with addictive disease or those in recovery who are admitted with pain
  • Patients who may require an injection into a joint or the spine for pain relief
  • Patients who chronically take opioids as an outpatient and are admitted to the hospital with new or worsening pain problems

Educating the Newton-Wellesley Community
In addition to consultations, the members of the Pain and Palliative Care Service are actively involved in providing education to the Newton-Wellesley community, including physicians, nurses, case managers, social workers, house officers and medical students through regularly scheduled conferences and rotations with our team. Our members also sit on various hospital committees to ensure that hospital policies appropriately reflect the needs of our patients.

Team Members
Julia Ragland, MD, Director (profile)
Cheryl Marks, NP, Clinical Coordinator of Inpatient Pain Management
Lisa Catalano, LICSW, Social Worker
Pamela Lane, NP
Judy Swett, BCC, Chaplain
Kosha Thakore, MD (profile)

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