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VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System

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Palliative Care

Palliative Care is interdisciplinary, holistic, compassionate care provided to Veterans with advanced, serious or life-limiting illnesses. Palliative Care:

  • Prevents, relieves and manages pain and symptoms
  • Improves and ensures quality of life for Veterans and their families
  • Is not necessarily driven by life expectancy
  • Is utilized along with curative treatments
  • Assists with planning and decision making
  • Promotes family involvement and communication
  • Allows control of the holistic quality of life and formulates goals of care

What is involved in Palliative Care?

In a team approach, providers and other staff, assist with meeting the physical as well as the social, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs of patients and their families.

The team offers specialized expertise to help patients cope with the pain and anxiety that may occur with major health changes. Such specialized care may complement treatment, facilitate care when quality of life is the primary goal, or assist in transitioning from curative to comfort care. The Palliative Care Team’s focus is to help patients and their families understand their treatment options so informed decisions can be made. Quality of life is the highest priority.

Enhancing patient and family support:

  • Helping identify what is important to the patient and family and convey this to the health care team
  • Providing spiritual and emotional support throughout the course of illness
  • Assisting in end-of-life planning and arrangements such as advance directives and VA benefits
  • Promoting well-being, peace of mind and ensuring the best quality of life
  • Helping the patient and family create meaning by supporting reflection about the patient’s life, repairing relationships and creating memories

Identifying needs and assist in obtaining services:

  • Making referrals for care at home or another setting, or coordinating community services
  • Arranging medical equipment needs

When should Palliative Care be started?

Palliative Care can be initiated at any point and is not limited to the final days of an advanced illness. A provider may refer a patient to help with symptoms and prepare the patient and family for the future.
Does acute care end when Palliative Care begins?

Curative treatments do not stop when Palliative Care starts. The transition is a process. As the patient nears the end of life, the focus of care gradually shifts from acute care to supportive care. This transition varies from person to person and depends on the wishes of the patient and their family.

How does Palliative Care fit with other medical care?

The team maintains close communication with the primary care provider

Palliative Care helps:

  • Reduce suffering and maximize life
  • Manage life-style goals around new physical limitations, while finding meaning in illness
  • Manage pain and other symptoms
  • Deal with new family issues
  • Find support for a caregiver
  • Reevaluate goals of treatment

Manage difficult symptoms such as:  pain, nausea, anxiety, fatigue, depression, shortness of breath, constipation, loss of appetite and other symptoms that may accompany serious illness or are side effects of treatment.

Address changing goals of treatment:

  • Helping patients consider care options and make decisions about quality of life
  • Interpret the benefits and burdens of care such as tests, surgeries or medication

Contact Info


  • Omaha VAMC
    Grand Island CLC

Contact Number(s)

  • 800-451-5796

Hours of Operation

  • 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday