Palliative Care

Palliative care is about helping people navigate through the challenges of serious illness. It helps patients to feel better by addressing side-effects of disease and treatment. Palliative care is patient and family centered. Besides disease management, it treats emotional, practical, social or spiritual problems that illnesses can bring about.

When you receive a diagnosis of a chronic or life-limiting disease, it’s important to understand that you have choices regarding your treatment. Northern Light's Palliative Care program helps patients understand their disease better so they can make informed decisions about their care.

There are different ways to treat almost every disease. It doesn’t mean that any one way is right or wrong. We believe in empowering our patients and their families with knowledge and we work with other medical providers to help patients receive the care that is right for their unique, personal situation. With expert care and support from our team of nurses, social workers and therapists, our goal is to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

Palliative care provides patients challenged with cancer, or heart, lung, liver or kidney disease, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia or other chronic illnesses. This specialized care can be received during curative treatments or any stage of a person’s illness.

If you or a loved one is managing a life-limiting disease, let’s talk. We will help you focus on relief of symptoms and gain control over your care. Together, with oversight from the patient’s doctor, we work to focus on the best Quality of Life possible.

For more information on Northern Light's Palliative Care in Maine, please call 800-757-3326.

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. Palliative care focuses on relief from symptoms and the stress of living with a serious illness. It is designed to improve quality of life for both the patient and their family. This Northern Light Health service emphasizes community care as opposed to hospital care.

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We offer a home based palliative care service. We bring our nurse practitioner to your place of residence to work on a patient-centered plan of care. This is in collaboration with the your primary care physician. Services include:

  • Goals of care discussions

  • Advance care planning document facilitation

  • Expert symptom management

  • Support for living with serious illness

  • Assistance obtaining community resources

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Our Palliative Care team works together with the patient’s physicians to provide optimize patients’ quality of life. At any age and at any stage of an illness palliative care is appropriate. It can be provided along-side curative measures and treatments. Member's of the team include:

  • Dr. Jim VanKirk, Medical Director

  • Robin Hirsh-Wright MSW, LCSW, Program Director

  • Fred Watters, NP for the Southern region

  • Sarah Levy, NP for the Southern region

  • Holly Macrae, LMCSW for the Southern region

  • Zoe Tenney, NP for the Bangor/Ellsworth region

  • Kari Whitney, NP for the Bangor/Ellsworth region

  • Anne Donovan-Fortier, LCSW for the Bangor/Ellsworth region

  • Dr. Nancy O'Neill, Palliative Care Physician in Presque Isle

  • Pamela Shay, RN Care Manager statewide

  • Rebecca Bragdon, Palliative Care Services Coordinator statewide

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Palliative care improves a patient’s quality of life by treating pain, depression, fatigue, anxiety, sleep issues, nausea, etc. Its’ goal is to address any symptoms causing the patient’s distress. People suffering from the symptoms of stress of serious illnesses such as:

  • Cancer

  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Alzheimer’s

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Kidney Failure

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) as well as other illnesses

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Palliative Care is specialized and individualized to the patient’s needs to improve quality of life.  Other benefits include:

  • Patients and their families appreciate the opportunity to talk about the illness and what is important to them

  • Hospitalizations and doctors’ visits may decrease

  • Patients and their families understand the progression of the illness and can make decisions about treatment based on their own goals

  • Early Palliative care interventions not only enhance quality of life but may also positively influence the course of illness

Good palliative care is finding a way to walk beside someone living with serious illness. In helping someone facing serious illness, the conversation becomes about what makes life worth living rather than about dying.

— Robin Hirsh-Wright,
Director of Northern Light Palliative Care

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For physicians 
For information on how you can receive help for yourself or a loved one call 800-757-3326. 

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