COLORADO SPRINGS — There is never a good time to receive a serious or life changing medical diagnosis. Generally, these days that kind of news comes from specialists like an oncologist, or a cardiologist.
Amy Holck is a clinical social worker and the Director of Palliative Services at Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care in Colorado Springs, who says sometimes making sure all your doctors are on the same page can be a challenge. “Specialists do an amazing job in what they specialize in but don't always take the time to step back and look at the big picture. Medicine has become very specialized and gone are the days when the doctor that delivered you is there at your end-of-life care. We now have multiple doctors in the community, and there are specialists that focus on certain pieces of our care.”
Amy says, “Palliative care is essentially another specialty in making sure all caregivers involved are on the same page about a patient's health with a short term and long-term focus. “It would be just like going to your cardiologist for heart disease, or an oncologist to seek cancer treatment. Palliative care comes alongside (a patient’s) current medical team working on symptom management and some of the bigger goals that should be considered. We come alongside to try to help answer questions, do advanced care planning, do some symptom management where needed, prescribe medications to help ease any symptoms or pain that the patient is having, but we do all that work in conjunction with the primary health care team.”
Just like any medical specialist, Amy says palliative care is covered in the same way by insurance. “Because we are considered a medical specialty within the community, we bill any insurance the same way another medical specialty would. For Medicare we bill Medicare part B for a provider visit. Most of these visits are in a patient’s home but we do have a clinic for patients that want to come in to the office. We will also see patients in long-term care or in assisted living communities. Wherever a patient resides, we will go to them. It’s billed like a physician office visit so if the patient has a copay for that visit, or there is some out of pocket cost, that payment come through in the same way.”
If you think palliative care can help you deal with a new serious or life changing diagnosis, Amy says there are a couple of ways to go about
getting started. “If someone is interested in palliative care I would say go to the doctor that you see most often, whether it be your specialist, or your primary care doctor and talk with them about palliative care, and if they think it would be a benefit. The doctor can then send a referral, but patients can also self-refer. We have a lot of patients that just call us up and say, ‘Can palliative care help me?’.”
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care in Colorado Springs and they will be happy to speak with you.
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