Northwestern Medicine's Dr. Gordon Wood Named an Inspiring Leader in Palliative and Hospice Care

Northwestern Medicine
Palliative Care January 14, 2015
Gordon Wood, MD, Director of Palliative Medicine and Supportive CareGordon Wood, MD, Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest hospital’s director of Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care, was named as one of 44 inspirational leaders in hospice and palliative medicine under the age of 40 in the U.S. by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM).

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Dr. Wood. “It is very exciting for me, especially since it comes from my peers on a national level, and one of the things I think it speaks to is the work that we have done at Lake Forest.”

The AAHPM selected which doctors made the list of leading hospice and palliative medicine professionals under 40 by surveying its roughly 5,000 members for nominations. The final list of the 44 honorees was decided based on additional criteria, including hospice and palliative medicine research, education and charitable work.

Palliative care helps patients manage the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges surrounding serious illness using an interdisciplinary team approach. Often, these challenges involve addressing the physical symptoms of serious illness, such as pain, nausea, fatigue and depression, as well as the stress that patients can experience managing their daily needs and ongoing care. “I think the hospital staff at Lake Forest has really come to understand the role that palliative care can play in helping their patients, and it has become part of the culture. Since I started, we have seen more than a five-fold increase in our number of patient visits per month” added Dr. Wood, who joined Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in the fall of 2012. “Another exciting thing we have seen is that patients and families have started to hear about palliative care and how it has helped people they know so they are starting to ask for us themselves.”

While hospice care is usually only provided to help comfort patients that have stopped treatment for a terminal disease or condition, patients who receive palliative care are usually also receiving life-prolonging care and many are expected to recover or stabilize. Palliative Care works alongside the patient’s regular physicians as an extra layer of support focused on comfort and quality of life.  The palliative care team also takes the time to make sure patients and families understand their treatment options so they can make the best decisions about their care.

“Palliative care improves quality of life and longevity for patients facing serious, complex illness,” said Dr. Wood. “That is why this kind of care is so important. No one should have to needlessly suffer through illness when palliative and supportive care is available.”

Northwestern Lake Forest hospital uses an interdisciplinary palliative care team in partnership with Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter to offer palliative care to patients inside the hospital, in an outpatient clinic and even in the home. In addition to Dr. Wood’s recognition, the hospital’s palliative care program recently received Advanced Certification for Palliative Care from The Joint Commission in 2014, making it one of only four hospitals in the state to achieve the certification.

“We are a program that provides care wherever the patient needs it and we’re increasingly getting involved early in the illness, often from the moment of diagnosis because the research suggests that the earlier we get involved the more we can help,” said Dr. Wood. “Our job is figure out what our patients’ goals are values are and then put together a plan that helps meet those goals.”

Dr. Wood will be formally recognized at the AAHPM & HPNA (Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association) Annual Assembly in Philadelphia, Pa., on February 27, 2015. For more information on this recognition, including the full list of the award winners, visit the AAHPM website.

Learn more about palliative and supportive care at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest hospital, or call 847.535.8181.
Check out these NM Care Areas: