The Palliative Care Service at Smilow Cancer Hospital is a patient and family centered consultation service focused on alleviating physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and nausea; and also helping with psychosocial issues such as depression, disruption of family life, and spiritual and financial concerns. For the past two years, Susan Crawford, a licensed clinical social worker with Palliative Care, has offered counseling support to patients. She meets with patients on both the inpatient and the outpatient services and, with the interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, PA's and Spiritual Care workers, acts as an extra layer of support for patients with a life-threatening illness and their families.
Much of what Susan focuses on is advance care planning and quality of life issues. She commented, "Palliative care is not hospice. Many of the patients I work with live a long time with cancer and need interventions of symptom management, coping mechanisms for the day-to-day, work related issues, planning for the future and relationship/family. We attempt to base our interventions on the strengths of the patient and family, articulating realistic, achievable goals. We have the privilege of watching healing happen in many ways."
When Susan entered the field of palliative care 11 years ago, it was a relatively new practice. She saw a piece missing for patients and their families when it came to long-term care and comfort near the end-of-life. The hope for the palliative care team is to meet with patients as early as possible when they are identified as having a life-threatening illness and symptom burden.
Bonnie Indeck, LCSW, Manager of Oncology Social Work at Smilow Cancer Hospital, commented, "Susan is a highly regarded professional whose advice is sought after. Susan came to us with an in-depth knowledge of this patient population and has broadened our perspectives. We are so lucky that she is part of our team providing superb psychosocial care to all."