The Division of Oncology was founded in 1992 and offers the whole spectrum of modern diagnostics and evidence based therapy for adult patients with cancer. In the early 1990s the ward was rebuilt by the artist F. Hundertwasser, who created an atmosphere and feeling of security by utilizing bright, warm and vivid colors, light and plants. The Unit of Palliative Medicine affiliated to the Division of Oncology was founded in 2001 as the first palliative ward including a palliative consulting service for patients in Austria.
The centre consists of two separate wards, which are part of the University Hospital of Graz. The first ward belongs to the Division of Oncology at the Department of Internal Medicine with 27 beds. The second ward is the Palliative Medicine Unit with 12 beds, of which 4 are single-bed rooms and 4 rooms are double bed rooms.
The interdisciplinary team at the Division of Oncology consists of 18.3 physicians, 3 psychologists, 29.2 nurses and 7 secretaries; whereas the interdisciplinary team at the Unit of Palliative Medicine has 7 physicians, 2 psychologists, 1 physical therapist, 22.5 nurses, 3.25 secretaries and 2 social workers.
Both wards are equipped with the standard technical equipment for internal medicine in Austria (e.g. ultrasound machines, monitoring systems, ECG etc.).
The Division of Oncology has an outpatient clinic of which takes care of about 90-120 patients per day are treated.
The patients have access to inpatient services, such as the palliative consulting service and the 2 wards and outpatient services such as the Mobile Palliative Team and the outpatient clinic from the division of Oncology. Psychologists, physical therapists and social workers are integral parts in both services. Furthermore, since this integrated centre is part of the University Hospital of Graz, patients have rapid access to all different departments if this is needed.
The centralised management of the Division of Oncology and the Unit of Palliative Medicine by one head of these two institutes guarantees integrated oncology and palliative care. As soon as the need of a patient for palliative care has been recognized by the oncologist, he/she has to request a consultation of a specialist for palliative care from the Palliative Care Unit. This consultation will result either in professional palliative care support by specific recommendations or, if necessary, the patient will be admitted to the affiliated Unit of Palliative Medicine and will receive in-patient treatment. Additionally, the patient has the possibility to register for home care support by the “Mobile Palliative Team”.
Palliative and supportive care
It is the aim that our patients with progressive course of disease are visited and also treated by specialists of the Unit of Palliative Medicine while they are still receiving tumour-specific therapy at the Division of Oncology. In case of a later transfer to the Palliative Care Unit the patients are already familiar with the physicians of this unit. Furthermore, palliative care is necessary as a logical consequence in patient management when there are no further tumour specific treatment options available or the patient is in too ill to receive further anti-tumour-therapy. Patients also have the opportunity to receive best professional palliative support in their final days. This support is necessary for outpatients as well and is accessible at all times. Our center attempts to meet this claim by a 24-hour on-call-duty of the “Mobile Palliative Team”.