The Division of Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital offers a wide range of clinical expertise including inpatient services, outpatient programs and home based programs. Our palliative care clinicians provide relief from pain and symptoms during a serious illness, while our geriatricians provide multidisciplinary care to patients that are 65 and older.

A Team Approach

Established in 1996, the Division of Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine, part of the Department of Medicine, comprises:
  • Nineteen board-certified physicians
  • Ten board-certified nurse practitioners
  • Six adult physician fellows, two pediatric physician fellows and two nurse practitioner fellows
  • Three clinical social workers, a triage nurse and administrative support staff
We work closely with the patient's primary care physician and hospital specialists, nurses, chaplains, psychiatrists and pharmacists to help meet the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families. We work with more than 2,000 inpatients and outpatients and their families every year. 

Palliative Care

Palliative Care provides specialized, multidisciplinary medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on improving quality of life for both the patient and the family—providing relief from the symptoms, pain and stresses of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis.

Ensuring Quality of Life

Our clinicians employ all available treatments to alleviate patients’ suffering and improve quality of life at any stage of a serious illness, including during curative treatments (such as chemotherapy). In this way, palliative care is unlike hospice, which focuses on home care and ceases life-prolonging interventions for patients expected to live six or fewer months.

Personalized, Family-Centered Support

Treatments are unique to each patient and incorporate the patient's goals, hopes, spiritual beliefs, moral values and cultural practices. We also encourage families to become part of the treatment process.

Treatment may involve medications and other therapies for pain, emotional distress and other troubling symptoms (e.g. nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of appetite). Examples include:

  • Patient-controlled medicine pumps
  • Relaxation techniques (e.g. meditation, guided imagery)
  • Short-term cognitive-behavioral therapy (e.g. pain-coping skills)
  • Individual and family counseling, including special services for younger children
  • Weekly clinics centering on specific conditions (e.g. cancer pain)

We may also refer patients to Mass General's Center for Pain Medicine or Cancer Center.

Geriatric Medicine

Geriatric Medicine delivers a multidisciplinary clinical care program for seniors emphasizing continuity of care across multiple sites of health care delivery. Our services emphasize wellness promotion and improvement in daily functioning.

Geriatric Medicine also provides patient- and family-centered care in the context of each individual's functional and psychosocial situation. Our team, which includes specialists in geriatric medicine, geriatric psychiatry, rehabilitation medicine, geriatric nursing and social work, develops a comprehensive care plan for each patient. Emphasis is placed on wellness promotion and improvement in daily functioning. Our staff coordinates your or your loved ones' care across the continuum, which may include hospitalization, rehabilitation, nursing home and home care services.

Frequently asked questions about Geriatrics

A Team Approach to Quality Care

Geriatric Medicine at Mass General provides health care as a team, with a focus on the individual patient. This model is often called a "patient-centered medical home." It is designed to help patients stay healthier and to facilitate care when needed, often with shorter wait times.

Each dedicated health care team includes:

  • A physician
  • A nurse practitioner
  • Nurses
  • A social worker
  • Administrative staff

Patients work with a care team to create a personalized and coordinated health care plan. The teams can help patients better understand their health care needs, maintain an accurate medication list and see specialists, if necessary. Patients are encouraged to play an active part in their health care by asking questions, communicating with their care team and collaborating to reach healthy goals.

Patient Testimonials

I have spent years seeking comprehensive, respectful, professional medical care for both my parents. This is the first time that I have believed we are finally in good hands. It is extremely difficult to find a competent, skilled physician who treats the needs of the whole individual, particularly one who is older. You were not only very thorough, but you took the time to understand all the issues and have the skill to be able to evaluate, diagnose and recommend solutions.

I'm 74. My wife and I both started going to MGH Geriatric Medicine about three years ago. We're both very satisfied with the quality of care and the personal attention we receive. Our doctors are specialists and know which of our problems are related to aging and what we can do about them. My medical problems are multiple and I need an organized approach. The staff is never too busy to return a phone call. Their whole approach is like family...they follow up with me like a mother hen.

It was wonderful talking to the nurse and it was so good from the doctor to call. The nurse and the doctor were a great team. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you did for my father, making him safe and secure in your caring for him.

A Foundation of Advocacy & Awareness

The Division of Palliative Care & Geriatrics is committed to strengthening institutional support for students and fellow clinicians and establishing standards of clinical excellence in the field. We participate in research and promote operational changes to improve palliative-care practice and geriatric medicine throughout Mass General and beyond.

The Division's Newsletter

Read the Division of Palliative Care and Geriatric Medicine newsletter for updates on the valuable work that our physicians and staff are doing to improve our patients' wellbeing.