Palliative care

Whether you or a family member have just been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, are in active treatment, have completed therapy, or are near the end of life, palliative care can provide the compassionate, coordinated care you and your loved ones deserve.

Mercy offers both inpatient and outpatient palliative care services.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life of patients who are faced with a progressive, chronic illness. When it comes to quality of life, you and your family have your own vision of what this means. Based on your unique goals and values, a care plan is developed and the team works together to address your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in conjunction with all other forms of appropriate medical treatment. The goal is to provide relief from pain and manage various symptoms including:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Pain
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

Studies have shown that patients who receive palliative care as part of their overall medical treatment have significantly lower pain and discomfort.

The difference between palliative care and hospice

Palliative care can be offered as an early intervention, along with life-prolonging therapies, during the course of an illness. You can receive palliative care while still pursuing curative or life-prolonging medical treatment.

Hospice care focuses primarily on comfort care in place of curative treatments. It is appropriate for patients with a terminal illness, who have a life expectancy of six months or less or patients who are ready to discontinue life-prolonging therapies.

Our inpatient palliative care program team

When treating a person’s illness, it is common to have several different doctors treating separate conditions. A palliative care doctor coordinates the care between several specialists for appropriate care. The palliative care team at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center may include:

  • Palliative care doctors
  • Palliative care nurses/nurse practitioners
  • Trained resource nurses
  • Nursing assistants or home health aides
  • Social workers
  • Chaplains
  • Discharge planners
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Pharmacists

All team members have expertise in treating pain and complex symptoms. We are here to help coordinate family meetings, discuss goals of care and advanced directives, and facilitate transitions to hospice or other appropriate care settings.

Who is eligible?

Palliative care is an option for all hospitalized patients, regardless of age, who may be suffering from a serious illness or facing complex medical decisions. The Mercy Palliative Care Program at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center may be especially helpful if you or a loved one:

  • Have cancer, heart disease, liver, lung, kidney problems and/or dementia
  • Are seriously ill and facing questions about the future
  • Have difficult medical decisions to make and want help thinking them through
  • Would like help with advance care planning

Care settings

Palliative care program can be provided in different locations:

  • Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville (inpatient care)
  • In your home via Mercy Home Health Care’s Journey Program (outpatient care)
  • At the Mercy Outpatient Palliative Care Clinic (outpatient care)

See the Related Locations menu for locations.


If you are interested in being referred to palliative care, we encourage you to talk to your doctor. You will receive an assessment to determine eligibility. Your primary doctor will help make the final decision.