It’s rare for Palliative Medicine physician Larry Parsons, MD, to meet someone who understands his medical specialty or how it benefits patients with serious illnesses. Dr. Parsons directs inpatient Palliative Medicine at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center and is part of the Palliative Medicine team at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Group. A dynamic communicator, Dr. Parsons helps patients and their families understand their medical choices and what they mean.
“What I bring to hospitalized patients is a big-picture view of their health status,” says Dr. Parsons. “Heart doctors assess the patient’s cardiac health; kidney specialists focus on the patient’s kidney function; and palliative medicine physicians look at the entire patient. We take a holistic approach to healthcare.”
What does the Palliative Medicine holistic approach include?
This holistic approach means Palliative Medicine experts consider your physical, emotional, spiritual and family needs, which may include:
- Managing symptoms (pain, shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue and more)
- Addressing quality of life issues
- Alleviating emotional distress, anxiety or depression
- Assisting with advance directives
- Arranging for spiritual counseling
- Explaining and discussing a patient’s clinical status
“This takes time,” Dr. Parsons says. “It means getting to know folks, learning what’s meaningful to them, and becoming familiar with their support systems. How is their illness affecting their life? Do they understand their clinical situation? Because I come with time, I can help people explore what’s important to them.”
During this episode of Healthy Conversations, Dr. Parsons discusses YRMC’s Palliative Medicine program. He also shares a compelling story about his family’s experience with medical decision making.
Palliative medicine is not hospice care
A common assumption people make is that Palliative Medicine and Hospice are one in the same. In fact, they are two different services. For example, the Palliative Medicine team works with patients – and their physicians – as they are pursuing medical treatment. Additionally, Palliative Medicine can begin most any time during an illness. Hospice is an option for people who have a life expectancy of less than six months.
A comprehensive Palliative Medicine program
At YRMC, Palliative Medicine is available for inpatients – people hospitalized at YRMC East or YRMC West – or in the community through Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Group, Palliative Medicine. According to Dr. Parsons, it’s rare for a Palliative Medicine program to offer both inpatient and outpatient services.
“Our community is very fortunate to have Palliative Medicine for hospitalized patients and as an outpatient service,” Dr. Parsons says. “It’s clear that YRMC understands the importance of this type of care for all patients.”
If you’re hospitalized at YRMC East or YRMC West, you may request a Palliative Medicine consultation with Dr. Parsons through your attending physician – also called a hospitalist – or contact Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Group, Palliative Medicine at (928) 775-5567.