Continuum Care Program - PIH Health - Whittier, CA

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Continuum Care Program

Palliative Care and Chronic Disease Management programs have been shown to improve health outcomes, quality of life and life expectancy, while also reducing costs and hospitalizations for patients with chronic diseases. Palliative care is both a philosophy of care and an organized, highly-structured system for delivering care that identifies and addresses the physical, psychological, spiritual and practical burdens of illness.

Palliative Care focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of ill patients, rather than just focusing on a cure. Palliative care can be adjunctive to curative treatments; however, the main focus is on improving the patient’s quality of life. Such care is appropriate to those suffering with cancer, heart conditions, liver failure, renal failure, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injuries and a number of other chronic and/or life-threatening conditions. Members of palliative care teams collaborate with professional, clinical, and informal caregivers to ensure coordination, communication and continuity of care across institutional and home care settings. Its unique design allows for a longitudinal experience across all three years of training.

Chronic Disease Management overlaps and shares many similarities with palliative care. The majority of patients receiving palliative care have a serious or life-threatening chronic disease. However, chronic disease management focuses on the entire spectrum of chronic disease, including diseases that may not be at a life-threatening stage.

There are four types of chronic diseases:

  1. Life-threatening diseases such as fast growing cancers, stroke or heart attacks
  2. Manageable diseases that include diabetes, HTN, osteoarthritis and chronic sinusitis
  3. Progressively disabling diseases like Parkinson’s and rheumatoid arthritis
  4. Chronic illnesses with sporadic acute flares such as multiple sclerosis

Program Highlights

  • Family practice residents will obtain training to effectively care for patients with numerous co-morbidities across multiple settings
  • Training will enable residents to implement and improve the provision of palliative and chronic care
  • Gain experience by visiting patients in their homes, nursing facilities, clinics and hospices
  • Practice a multidisciplinary approach to patient care that includes input from physicians, pharmacists, nurses, chaplains, social workers and psychologists

Palliative Care and Chronic Disease Management Faculty

Nelson E. Dalla Tor MD, ABFM, Faculty Physician

Dr. Dalla Tor graduated from the UCLA School of Medicine, completed his residency at Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills and is board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Upon completion of his residency, Dr. Dalla Tor remained at Kaiser and worked as a Family Medicine physician. After spending seven years at Kaiser, he decided to enter the family medicine teaching field and is now a faculty physician at PIH Health.

Virag Y. Shah MD, ABFP, Program Director

Dr. Shah completed the honors program in medical education at Northwestern University and completed his residency at the PIH Health Family Medicine Program. He has held an academic faculty position at California Hospital Family Practice Residency and has been with PIH Health since 1999, where he served as Associate Program Director for three years prior to becoming Program Director. Dr. Shah also holds an MBA from the Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine and is board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.