Message from the DirectorWelcome to UAB's Center for Palliative and Supportive Care website. We hope you will discover something about palliative care that will benefit you.
Palliative Care comes from the Latin word "palliare," which means "to cloak." Palliative care seeks to cloak patients and their families from the burden brought on by a serious illness and its treatment. Palliative care often is equated with "end-of-life care." Although palliative care certainly is appropriate for individuals as they face the advanced stages of their illness, palliative care can be beneficial to patients at any stage of illness...whenever the burden of their illness (or the treatment for their illness) is great.
UAB's Center for Palliative and Supportive Care seeks to reduce the burden of illness borne by patients and their families. We do this through the care we provide, the training we give to healthcare providers and the research we conduct. We are committed to working as a team to find ways to decrease our patients' suffering as they walk through an illness. Suffering takes on many forms-physical, social, emotional or spiritual-so we work with providers from an array of disciplines (nutrition, psychology, counseling, social work, nursing, medicine, art therapy, music therapy, to name a few) to address the suffering faced by patients and families.
Focusing on the downstream effects of illness and treatment has not been the emphasis of most healthcare providers' training. The Center assists in the training of medical students, nurses, psychology students, medical residents and fellows from palliative medicine, geriatrics, and oncology. Our goal is to equip healthcare providers and trainees to provide care in a more holistic way for their patients. This ultimately reduces suffering, improves quality of life and, sometimes, increases survival.
Because there has been so little emphasis on reducing suffering and providing person-centered care for individuals with serious illnesses, much clinical research is needed to find the best way to provide high quality palliative care. Our faculty engages in research to understand the best ways to provide patient-centered care to patients with advanced illness. We are studying what medicines work best, what healthcare delivery models work best and what problems are the most prominent for people who have been living with serious illnesses (such as cancer) for many years.
Modern medicine has brought us many good things and has helped us live longer. It has also made it more likely that we will live with serious illnesses that affect the quality of our lives. At the Center, we seek to optimize patients' quality of life to help them live as well as they can for as long as they can. We hope you will partner with us in this goal.
Thank you for your interest.
Rodney Tucker, MD, MMM