Palliative Care Service Line Launched at Nathan Littauer Hospital & Nursing Home

Palliative Care Service Line Launched at Nathan Littauer Hospital & Nursing Home

Nathan Littauer Hospital & Nursing Home is proud to announce the launch of their new palliative care program. The mission of Littauer’s palliative care program is to ease physical, psychosocial, and spiritual distress among those with serious illness. Compassionate conversations with patients regarding their illness, how it affects them, and their family, and what matters most to them in the context of disease – ultimately helps patients and their families to plan and make well-informed decisions in regards to their care. Finally, the completion of advance directives helps ensure a patient’s wishes are identified, respected, and communicated. Susan “Susie” Duross, Nurse Practitioner, is the organization’s new Palliative Care Coordinator. Duross says, “Palliative care ultimately improves lives. It is based on the needs of the patient, so the patient receives a very individualized form of care.”

“We see the landscape of healthcare changing,” adds Duross. “More people are being diagnosed with chronic illnesses and living longer with them. It is important, that for every patient we serve, we are paying attention to what matters most to patients and their families and ensuring that treatment plans consider their unique needs and wishes.”

Since its inception two years ago, Nathan Littauer Hospital’s palliative care program has been widely successful. To date, Nathan Littauer Hospital has provided palliative care services to over 30 patients.

Littauer proudly welcomed Susan “Susie” Duross, Nurse Practitioner, as the organization’s new Palliative Care Coordinator in October, however, the palliative care team at Littauer has grown diversified. The growing palliative care team consists of Littauer teammates: Susie Duross, NP, Care Coordination Manager and Social Worker, Margaret “Maggie” Rowley, and Pastoral Care Coordinator, Reverend Bonnie Orth.

In an effort to further expand knowledge of palliative care principles and practices, Nathan Littauer has joined the CAPC. The CAPC is part of the nonprofit Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sanai, and is the leading organization for training, resources, and technical assistance to aide health care providers in caring for their most vulnerable and complex patients.

With palliative care services at Littauer, ­we can provide a close, unique approach to care for our patients,” says Vice President of Population Health, Geoffrey Peck. “The growing need for palliative care services has existed long before the pandemic, and since we developed the program two years ago, it has been extremely successful.”

Duross affirms the demand of palliative care services during the height of the COVID pandemic:

During the pandemic it has been challenging for our patients, families, and caregivers. Everyone in our community has been affected in some way. We have assisted patients and families by giving them our time; ensuring they are kept updated regarding their loved one’s condition. We have responded to their spiritual needs by providing prayer and healing sacraments as requested, and we have helped reunite family members that were estranged. Additionally, we were able to coordinate a commitment ceremony for a patient and her significant other. Since team health is a vital part of palliative care, we are also helping to ensure all front-line workers are coping during these very stressful times.

Conclusively, the palliative care team at Littauer aims to provide consultation and palliative care services to at least 40 inpatients each year, to patients who are in need of them. As the palliative care program develops and expands to the healthcare organization’s extended care facility, and more healthcare providers become familiar with palliative care through the means of education, it is likely Littauer’s palliative care services will grow exponentially. While the program is now offered on an inpatient basis, the organization hopes to provide the service on an outpatient basis in the future. For more information about Littauer’s palliative care services, please contact Littauer’s Palliative Care Coordinator, Susie Duross, at (518) 773-5254 or via email:

Wellness Words September 2016

HealthLink Littauer’sCarol Tomlinson-Head


Submitted by Carol Tomlinson, RN BS

Community Health Educator


Palliative Care:  Myths & Facts

There is a relatively new medical specialty, begun 2006 in the US, called Palliative Care. It has its own distinct mission – to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life for people with serious illness.  While there are similarities to Hospice Care, it is not just for end stage illness.

According to the Center To Advance Palliative Care, this type of treatment is appropriate at any age and any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.  Palliative Care also provides support and guidance to families.

Palliative Care (PC) Myths Include:

  1. Palliative care can only be provided in a hospital. In fact, PC can be provided at home, in clinics, hospice, assisted living and nursing home settings.
  2. Medicare does not pay for palliative care. Actually, Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans cover this type of care.
  3. Only my primary care doctor can suggest this type of treatment. The fact is your doctor does play a significant role but it is up to you and your family. Let your family, caregivers and physician know you are interested in this care.
  4. Palliative Care is only provided by doctors and nurses. PC is truly a team of professionals. While physicians and nurses are team members, so too are therapists, social workers, nutritionists, chaplains and even massage therapists.
  5. The only diagnosis accepted for Palliative Care is Cancer. The truth is that virtually any serious or chronic illness may qualify. PC may be right for you or your family member if you suffer from pain, stress or other symptoms of serious illness.  Such illness may include cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), ALS, among others.
  6. Once I choose Palliative Care, I will always have to be in the program. The reality is people move in and out of PC treatment as their needs and wants dictate.
  7. The main goal of Palliative Care is to reduce pain. You can expect relief from symptoms and issues that are important to you. Such symptoms often include pain management, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, constipation, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.  PC helps you carry on with your daily life.  It improves your ability to cope with medical treatments and helps you to better understand your condition.  Additionally, people who face serious illness often need the emotional and spiritual support that is provided with PC.

When it comes to quality of life, each patient has his or her own vision. Each suffering is unique.  Each individual is unique.  Each family and the dynamics are unique.  Palliative Care is holistic and extends to family members and caregivers.  It may also be utilized to provide education and counseling, respite for caregivers and home help with meals, shopping and transportation.  PC is uniquely designed to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their families as they define it.

For more information, attend a free presentation on “Palliative Care” on Wednesday, September 28 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in the auditorium of Nathan Littauer Hospital, 99 E. State Street, Gloversville.

You can also talk to your health care provider, contact the Center To Advance Palliative Care at, or call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at, see our website at, or visit our new wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.