The goal of palliative care is to provide patients comfort though symptom management and maintain the highest quality of life. Palliative care medicine assists patients, families and physicians in determining a plan of care.

Samir Patel, MD, who spearheaded the initiative, believes the Palliative Care Team will be a valuable resource for physicians.

“Much of medicine today is managing disease,” he explained. “The medical model is designed to cure; it’s not in our consciousness to discuss end-of-life care issues. The Palliative Care Team will improve communication between patients and their physicians, and assist in the management of disease.”

Joining Dr. Patel on the Palliative Care Team will be advanced practice nurse Peg Ackerman, NP-BC, MSN, DNP (Std), who provides consultations to the physicians and also works with patients and their families.

“Palliative care is a way to ensure that the patients needs and wishes are met during illness, particularly as illness progresses,” said Ackerman. “The goal is to provide holistic, comprehensive care focused on symptoms (not disease), psychological adaptation and spiritual wellness.”

There will be a social worker to assist with the psychosocial component and a chaplain that can address the spiritual needs of both patient and family.

Joan Vitello, PhD, RN, FAAN, CNAA, vice president and chief nursing officer for Hallmark Health, said the program will support nurses who often try to coordinate all aspects of care, but ultimately the program will benefit patients.

“Palliative care is a holistic approach to care,” she said. “No one wants to be treated like discreet body parts. We function as a whole human being and want to be treated that way.”

Hallmark Health System Palliative Care is offered at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. For more information, call 781-979-6989 or visit

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Hallmark Health System is the premier, charitable provider of vital health services to Boston's northern communities. The system includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford, Melrose Wakefield Hospital, Melrose, Hallmark Health Cancer Center, Stoneham, The CHEM Center for MRI, Stoneham, Hallmark Health Medical Center, Reading, Hallmark Health VNA and Hospice, Malden, Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing and Radiography Programs, Medford, and Ell Pond Medical Associates. Hallmark Health is affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital for cardiology and Tufts-New England Medical Center for neonatology.

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