The Palliative Medicine Consult Team evolved from the James Cancer Pain Consult Service which was developed approximately 14 years ago. The goal of the Pain Service was to assist physicians at the James Cancer Hospital manage complex cancer pain and symptoms in patients at the James. The service was originally staffed by one pain specialist, Costantino Benedetti, MD, and one NP. This service also provided services in the ambulatory clinic two half-days per week.
In 2004. the James senior leadership acknowledged the need to expand the scope of the pain service to include palliative care services. The Assistant Executive Director, Dennis Smith, and the Program Director for Palliative Medicine, Moira Kelsey, attended a three day seminar in May of 2004 offered by the Center for the Advancement of Palliative Care (CAPC) on Expanding Palliative Care Services in the Hospital Setting. In August of 2005, administration supported sending a team of eight health professionals, including hospital administration, Palliative Medicine Medical Director, PC program director, nursing administration, strategic planning, finance, home health care, and program NP to a Palliative Care Leadership Center. The team went to the Massey Cancer Center of Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center to receive "hands-on" training to develop a Palliative Care program at the James.
The need for a physician champion in Palliative Medicine was quickly recognized. Also, in order to support expanding the scope of the Palliative Care consult team, additional interdisciplinary team members were recruited.
In November of 2005, Michael Adolph, MD, a surgeon by training who had completed his PC fellowship at The James, came on full time as Staff Physician. In May of 2006, Robert M. Taylor, MD, was recruited from Mt. Carmel Health System. Mt. Carmel is a designated PCLC by CAPC, and Dr. Taylor was the Medical Director for Hospice and Palliative Care for Mt. Carmel. Additional team members were recruited including a second NP, Pharmacist, Psychologist, Chaplain and two Fellows. Fiscal year 2007 (July 1, 2006 to June 30th, 2007) was the first full year the team worked together with the charge of expanding Palliative Care (PC) services within the James.
With the increase in volume of consults and the expansion of PC services to University Hospital, and Ross Heart Hospital and additional ambulatory clinic time, additional staff was added to the service. Today's Palliative Care Center Team consists of Medical Director, Nursing Director, twelve Attending Physicians, Psychologist, one Pharmacist, nine Advanced Practice Nurses, two Out-patient Management Coordinator RNs, one Social Worker, three Administrative Support Staff, four Fellows, and a part-time Chaplain.