AUBMC has been interested is starting palliative care for a while. They established a palliative care committee a few years ago to look into establishing palliative care at the medical center. However, there was very little progress primarily due to lack of physicians trained in palliative care.
This is the first hospital based palliative care service in the country. Given the recent recognition of the specialty by the government, and the launching of this new service at AUBMC, we are hoping this will encourage other hospitals to follow suit.
I will be leading the service and it will be an inpatient consultation service initially. The team includes another physician, four nurses, a psychiatrist, a social worker and a clinical pharmacist. One of the nurses is a pediatric nurse and the rest are adult nurses. The nurses have other clinical responsibilities in the hospital but will be devoting part of their time to palliative care. As they build their skills, they will hopefully shift exclusively to palliative care in the future.
At this point, we will not include medical students or residents on the team since we are in the early building stages. We are hoping to integrate students and residents into the team in 6 – 12 months. We are hoping to start a fellowship program in 3 – 5 years.
Balsam will be working closely with AUBMC on this service and will continue to provide community-based palliative care to AUBMC patients when they are discharged home.