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Palliative care offers quality-of-life for those with a serious illness

Tift  Regional Health System (TRHS) is now offering a palliative care program which provides specialized care for patients with serious illnesses such as cancer, congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  

“Many people associate palliative care solely with hospice care,” said palliative care medical director Marcus Roberts, M.D.  “Both palliative care and hospice care provide comfort; but, palliative care can begin at diagnosis, and at the same time, as treatment.  Hospice care begins after treatment of the disease is stopped and when it is clear that the person is not going to survive the illness.  Hospice care is usually offered only when the person is expected to live six months or less.  Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.”

Dr. Roberts said palliative care is emerging as an important treatment option in this changing healthcare landscape.  “With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, new healthcare models are being implemented,” he said.  “Palliative care is recognized as enhancing medical care quality while reducing costs.”

Palliative care is specialized medical care that utilizes an interdisciplinary team approach to address a patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual health.  The team includes a physician, nurse practitioner, registered nurses, social workers and chaplains.   Dr. Roberts and the palliative care team work together with the patient’s physicians to provide an extra layer of support as well as to enhance quality of life and maintain function.

“We spend time communicating deeply with patients and family members,” said Dr. Roberts.  “We give patients control over their care by truly exploring goals and helping them to understand treatment options. We help patients gain the strength to carry on with daily life and improve quality of life.”

Dr. Roberts provides outpatient palliative care at Affinity Clinic and is available for inpatient consultations at Tift Regional Medical Center.   He also works with Hospice of Tift Area on home visits for hospice patients.

Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative care.  “If costs concern a patient, a social worker or financial consultant from the palliative care team can provide assistance,” said Dr. Roberts. 

Affinity Clinic, a part of Tift Regional Physician Group, is a multi-specialty practice located in Tifton at 2225 Highway 41 North.   Tift Regional Medical Center is located in Tifton at 901 East 18th Street.   To receive palliative care, a referral from a physician or advanced practice provider is required.  Referrals can be made by calling 229-391-4426.  Learn more at or .