Healthy World, Healthy Nation, Healthy You

Taking the Mystery Out of Palliative Care

Karl  M Ahlswede, MD
Director of Pain and Palliative at Bryn MAwr Hospital, Bryn Mawr, PA and Medical Director for the Pain and Palliative Care Program for Main Line Health System, Bryn Mawr, PA.

Kathleen McDevitt, APRN, MSN, AOCN, BC-ACHPN
Manager, Pain and Palliative Care Program
Bryn Mawr Hospital
Bryn Mawr, PA


karlKarl M Ahlswede, MD is a graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder with a degree in pharmacy and then attended Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pa. He conducts a private practice in Advance Care Planning, a service to individuals who desire full disclosure of their plans for personalized  end of life care.  Karl is a former surgeon who made a mid career decision to change his practice and focus on Palliative Care. {Palliative care (from palliare, to cloak) is an area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. palliative medicine is appropriate for patients in all disease stages, including those undergoing treatment for curable illnesses and those living with chronic diseases, as well as patients who are nearing the end of life.}

Kathleen-HeadshotKathleen McDevitt has spent a career in nursing in a wide variety of positions that eventually led her to work with the sickest of the sick~ those who are at the end of treatment options and facing death. She is an example of an advanced practice nurse who has made a difference in countless people’s lives through her combination of knowledge, skill and deep compassion.

She is a graduate of the College of New Jersey, University of Pennsylvania, and has a post master’s certificate from Penn in Hospice and Palliative Care. She has also studied at Memorial Sloane Kettering in NYC. Her outstanding work has won numerous  awards over the past 30 years. She is an example of a nurse who has trained countless others of all disciplines in how to best meet the needs of patients and families in crisis.


Facts vs. Myths About Palliative Care

Myth: Palliative care is the same as hospice care.
Fact: Although palliative and hospice care share the same principles of comfort and support, palliative care begins at diagnosis and continues during treatment and beyond. Palliative care is not synonymous with end-of-life care.

Myth: If I accept palliative care, I won’t get treatment.
Fact: Palliative care is given in addition to your prescribed treatment. It will continue to be provided to alleviate your symptoms and emotional issues throughout the course of your treatment.

Myth: You have to give up your other physicians to receive palliative care.
Fact: Palliative care specialists will make recommendations to your oncologist and other physicians about the management of your pain and other symptoms. You will continue to receive care from your other physicians.

Myth: Only patients can benefit from palliative care.
Fact: Everyone involved can benefit, including family caregivers. Your doctors and nurses benefit, too, because they know they are meeting your needs by providing care that reduces suffering and improves quality of life.

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3 Key Points:

  1. Description of Palliative Care and when it is utilized
  2. How Palliative Care fills in the gaps of other medical specialties
  3. The challenges of paying for Palliative Care


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