The Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice

Palliative Care Psychiatry Programs

Winner of the 2009 American Psychiatric Association's Psychiatric Services Gold Achievement Award

Winner of the 2009 American Psychiatric Association's Psychiatric Services Gold Achievement Award

The Palliative Care Psychiatry Programs at San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine combine clinical innovation, applied research, and professional education to improve mental health care for a seriously-ill and highly-vulnerable population at a highly significant time for both patients and families. Located on the campus of a large hospice organization with an average daily census of over 1,000 patients, the program is unique in its exclusive focus on the mental health needs of hospice and palliative care patients, their loved ones, and their informal caregivers.

These programs address the under-recognition and under-treatment of psychiatric symptoms when the end of life is near. Standard pharmacologic treatments are frequently not appropriate for these patients, but we are showing that rapid screening, identification, and treatment of psychiatric symptoms – often within hours of initiating hospice care – can make a drastic difference in the lives of our patients and the lives of their loved ones.

There are multiple complex medical and psychosocial issues faced at the end-of-life. These issues constitute a major impact on the individual as well as family members, and often result in financial costs for these families, as well as society. These issues create both a substantial burden to and a tremendous opportunity for our healthcare system as a whole. Palliative care aims to relieve suffering and improve quality of life throughout an illness and bereavement experience, so that patients and families can realize their full potential to live, even when someone is dying. The need for psychiatrists to work with patients and families living with life-limiting illnesses in support of this aim has never been greater. The Palliative Care Psychiatry Programs at San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine are setting a new standard of whole-person care for dying patients and their families.

Featured In

Dr. Irwin discusses the benefits of the palliative care model when used within the existing healthcare system on the recent UCSDTV segment: Research on Aging: The Opportunity for Health Care via Hospice and Palliative Care. Click here to view. 

Palliative Care Psychiatry: What Is It and Does It Work?  An interview with Dr. Irwin by Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Heath, click here.

"San Diego Hospice Offers Psychiatric Care To Ease Suffering" as heard on KPBS San Diego, to listen to radio broadcast, click here. 

Dr. Irwin discusses the opportunity for psychiatry in palliative care, click here.

An Expert Interview With Jeremy M. Hirst, MD by Medscape Medical News on The Challenge of Psychopharmacology for Children With Advanced Illnesses a Challenge, click here. 

For more information please contact Scott A. Irwin, MD, PhD, Chief of Psychiatry & Psychosocial Services at +1 (619) 278-6246 or email sirwin@sdhospice.org.

Gift Giving

The Palliative Care Psychiatry Programs are primarily supported by donations from the generous benefactors of the education and research programs at The Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice.  For giving to The Institute for Palliative Medicine, please click here.

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