University Medical Center New Orleans has launched the first Palliative Medicine outpatient clinic in the New Orleans and Gulf Coast area. The new clinic opened August 1 in the Ambulatory Care Building at UMC. Inpatient palliative medicine services will begin a month later, Sept. 1, and will be fully staffed by Fellowship trained, Board Certified palliative medicine physicians.
Palliative medicine is an interdisciplinary subspecialty that provides comprehensive treatment of physical, emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs related to serious illness or injury. The word “palliate” means “to ease;” the focus of palliative medicine is to ease the suffering that results from illness, and to reduce caregiver stress.
“I am thrilled with the development of this new program, an idea that originated from our dedicated medical staff,” said UMC President and CEO Bill Masterton. “It is a great example of how UMC continues its evolution as a physician-led organization.”
Palliative medicine services can benefit, though are not limited to, patients with advanced diagnoses of cancer (metastatic/recurring), heart disease, lung disease, stroke, renal disease, neurologic disease (including advanced Alzheimer’s disease, with severe dementia and medical complications), liver disease, rheumatologic disease, and HIV.
Sonia Malhotra, MD, MS, FAAP, directs UMC’s Palliative Medicine Services. Dr. Malhotra is a Board Certified Medical Physician in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Hospice/Palliative Medicine, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Tulane University and LSU Schools of Medicine. She believes the Palliative Medicine services at UMC have the potential to “significantly elevate” patient care.
“UMC’s Palliative Medicine services, operating in a large hospital system, will positively impact more lives, offer new services to those in need, and redefine the landscape for medical services for serious illness care in the Louisiana gulf region,” Malhotra said.
In addition to serving the chronically ill and seriously injured, the group will be the first Academic Palliative Medicine team in the region, educating medical students, resident physicians, and physicians pursuing subspecialty training in various fellowships from LSU, and Tulane Schools of Medicine.
Visiting medical students from around Louisiana and Mississippi will also have the opportunity to benefit academically from the Palliative Medicine & Supportive Care team. In addition to Dr. Malholtra, the team includes Rebecca Burke, MD, ABFM, Palliative Care Physician; Marcia Glass, MD, Palliative Care Physician; and David Sheely, MD, Clinical Operations Manager.
“In collaboration with our academic partner, Tulane University, we have built a team of highly talented and specialized physicians to offer this service to our community,” Masterton said.