Palliative Care Program

About Pallliative Care

Palliative Care is a medical specialty focused on preventing, treating and relieving pain and other debilitating effects of serious and chronic illnesses. Palliative (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) care addresses the patient’s physical needs along with his or her emotional, social and spiritual needs, and also those of the family and other loved ones.

With the goal of improving the quality of life for patients and families dealing with a condition that is chronic and/or advanced, palliative care provides education and support at any stage during an illness.

For those diagnosed with a chronic disease such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), liver disease and advanced dementia, the aim of Palliative Care is to promote optimal health by helping individuals manage the progression of a disease with education, support, symptom management and restorative care. Major components of Palliative Care include:

• Education about the disease process

• Patient/family support

• Therapies to alleviate pain, discomfort and other symptoms interfering with quality of life 


University of Maryland Shore Regional Health’s Palliative Care program is offered by by a team of experts – physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, dietitians and pastor/chaplains . The team works with each patient and his or her family to provide the education needed to manage symptoms and to plan for any care needs outside of the hospital that will promote optimal health and comfort with the wishes of each patient in mind. Inpatient palliative care is offered at 

UM Shore Medical Centers at Chestertown, Dorchester and Easton (all three hospital offer designate Palliative Care suites in which patients with terminal conditions can stay in a home-like atmosphere while undergoing treatments to control symptoms and making decisions regarding care prior to transitioning home or to another facility);
The Requard Rehabilitation Center for Acute Rehabilitation in UM SMC at Easton, and 
UM Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at Chestertown

How Palliative Care Works

Palliative care focuses on the individual patient. The palliative care plans differ from one patient to another, depending on the needs and wishes of the patient, family members and loved ones. Based on the patient’s particular goals and the overall objective of improving his or her quality of life, a palliative care plan is designed to:

• Provide relief from pain and other symptoms to reduce suffering

• Integrate emotional, social and spiritual needs

• Explain potential treatment options to ensure that the patient, family and loved ones have the information needed to determine goals

• Support the patient and his or her family and loved ones in making the most appropriate decisions

• Help the patient live as actively as possible

• Prepare for the long term care needs of the patient and family

• Assist with a smooth transition from the hospital to home, to another facility or to hospice care, depending on the patient’s care needs

• Assure clear communication with other care providers

• Assist the patient’s health care providers, if desired, with complicated decision-making regarding therapies and treatments

• Develop support


Patients in non-acute setting (such as their homes or assisted living facilities), may receive palliative care services under the direction of their primary care physician through UM Shore Home Care and UM Chester River Home Care. Outside of the hospital setting, services (such as skilled home health care) might include: 

• Nursing to teach patients and their family members how to safely perform care techniques and how to manage medications 

• Physical, occupational and speech therapies to help optimize strength and functional independence with daily tasks

• Social services to provide social support to the patient and family when dealing with changes in health status

Shore Wellness Partners also will provide Community Case Management to connect patients with the right information to help gain the skills, services and support needed to manage chronic disease in partnership with our home care agencies.
For a consult, please contact:
Lakshmi Vaidyanathan, MD
Medical Director
Shore Regional Palliative Care Program
410 822-1000

For all other questions or concerns, please contact:

Madeline Steffens, RN, BSN, CHPN
Program Coordinator
Shore Regional Palliative Care Program
410-822-1000, ext. 5041, or 410-708-4177

Click here to listen to a quick summary of Palliative Care offered by UM Shore Regional Health