Patient Care

Region’s Only Inpatient Palliative Care Unit to Open at Strong

Mar. 23, 2009
April 6th Ribbon Cutting Set for Sussman Palliative Care Unit

The University of Rochester Medical Center will celebrate the opening of the region’s only hospital-based palliative care unit, at Strong Memorial Hospital, with a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony at 5:45 p.m. Monday, April 6.

The Albert and Phyllis Sussman Palliative Care Unit, located on a newly renovated section of the hospital’s fourth floor, offers 12 private rooms with family-friendly amenities and medical care offering the best quality of life for patients and their families at the same time they receive the best possible disease management. Palliative care provides medical treatment and comfort care during all stages of serious illness and differs from hospice, which provides comfort care in the last stages of life.

“This beautiful, spacious unit was uniquely designed so patients may receive the most modern palliative care treatments alongside any medically indicated treatments in a family-friendly environment,” said Timothy E. Quill, M.D., professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Medical Humanities, and chief of the Palliative Care Division at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Our specialty-trained physicians, nurses and multidisciplinary team are dedicated to relieving pain and other uncomfortable symptoms while helping patients and families receive the best possible treatment for their medical condition.”

The dedication ceremony will be preceded by a 4 p.m. inaugural lecture in the Medical Center’s Class of ’62 Auditorium featuring Susan Block, M.D., a national leader in the development of palliative medicine. Block is chief of the Division of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and co-director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care, a national center for excellence in palliative care education. Open to the university community, Block’s lecture will address the State of the Art and Science in Palliative Care.

Named in honor and memory of Albert and Phyllis Sussman, the Palliative Care Unit was made possible in large part through a gift from a charitable trust created by Albert following Phyllis’ challenging experiences as a lymphoma patient, hoping to help other patients and families better address the suffering and fear associated with life-threatening illness. The unit’s comfortable living room-style common area is surrounded by spacious, private patient rooms which can accommodate a family member overnight. 

With the unit’s opening, URMC’s Palliative Care Program provides full-service palliative care, including outpatient and in-home consultations as well as hospital-based care. Last year, the program provided more than 900 inpatient consultations and exceeded 200 outpatient and home consultations. The program’s mission is to help alleviate patient and family suffering and to promote patient quality of life through high-quality clinical consultation, education and research. URMC and its affiliates have more than 20 board-certified specialists in palliative care.

The palliative care team includes clinicians from a wide range of disciplines, including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, researchers, medical residents, social workers, chaplains, a music practitioner,  massage therapists, and a bereavement coordinator. Clinical goals include relieving pain and enhancing quality-of-life issues, as well as helping patients and their families work through the growing number of options available to them in the face of serious illness.

Palliative care, recently recognized as a subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties, is a division of URMC’s Department of Medicine. It offers a one-year accredited fellowship that provides advanced training in palliative care