Julia Palliative Care
Julia Palliative Care is the first community-based (outpatient) office practice in palliative medicine ever in Erie County, Pennsylvania.
This practice is being opened by Dr. Christopher Strzalka who is one of only two physicians that are board-certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and fellowship trained in Erie. He did this specialized training in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.
Palliative Medicine is an accredited evidence-based medical specialty that provides care management and care coordination for all those in our community living with a serious illness. A serious illness is defined as any medical condition that is incurable, but manageable and can bring about someone’s death as it progresses. Examples include heart and vascular disease, lung disease, liver disease, kidney disease, recurrent or advanced cancer, neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and ALS, and neurocognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Pick’s, and Lewi Body dementia.
Dr. Strzalka will work together with your other doctors to provide an extra layer of supportive care for any adult living with any serious illness in the Erie region. He has been a doctor for over 31 years, and has practiced in Erie for almost 25 years. He has particular experience and knowledge in heart disease, vascular disease, lung disease and all related illnesses. Before transitioning his practice to palliative medicine, he was a cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon for many years. Dr. Strzalka understands that one size does not fit all, and has expanded his understanding of medicine to include not just all of the traditional treatments, but also nontraditional treatments such as food as medicine, the microbiome, exercise, supplements, botanicals, and nontraditional treatments for pain including acupuncture, music therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. He has developed a truly “holistic philosophy of health” that focuses on the mind, body, and spirit to enable real well-being for the best quality of life.
Like any other medical specialty, this specialized care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare patients do not need pre-authorization or a referral from a primary care physician to be seen by Dr. Strzalka. In other words, Medicare patients who want to access this care can call and make an appointment themselves. Under most circumstances, Medicare copayments will apply.
The specific services that Julia Palliative Care will offer include:
Advance Care Planning – this service will review with and educate you to the natural history of your serious illness so that you can better understand any specific challenges, and especially what it means for your future as the illness progresses. After getting to know you as a person, especially what is important to you and what your goals are in life and for your illness, the information presented to you will be used to help you make decisions regarding your future care that are best aligned with your goals, wishes, and preferences. If you choose, you will be helped to complete legal directives such as a living will, Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, and Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatments (POLST).
Pain and Symptom Management – this service will address any distressing symptoms your serious illness may cause you such as poorly controlled pain, anxiety/despair/demoralization, worry/fear, shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, constipation/diarrhea, or confusion/restlessness. Dr. Strzalka and his associates will employ whatever treatments will provide you greater comfort and achieve greater well-being. Improving the quality of your life will usually require a combination of both traditional and nontraditional treatments where the benefit of treatments outweighs the risks of side-effects and unintended complications.
Chronic Care Management – this service will provide you with an extra layer of support for your serious illnesses. To qualify you have to have 2 or more serious illnesses that will likely persist for more than 12 months. This service will involve monitoring your illnesses by both face-to-face visits either in the office or via internet-based video conferencing (telemedicine), and non-face-to-face monitoring via phone-calls, and communicating with your primary care physician. Dr. Strzalka will be available to you by phone 24/7 to help you with any questions you might have regarding your illnesses, and to help you with any changes you may be experiencing with your illnesses, and what you should do.
Care Plan Oversite – this service is specifically for those patients who choose Dr. Strzalka to be their hospice attending physician of record (hospice doctor) and who have a complex medical condition. In addition to working with your hospice provider (agency) to oversee your care, Dr. Strzalka will also review your overall plan of care with you and your family every month.
Julia Palliative Care will be located at The Way to Healthy Living Center, Suite 3, 4508 Zuck Road, Erie, PA. Office hours beginning 5/25/2021 will be Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00AM to 5:00PM. Appointments will be scheduled 90 minutes apart. To make an appointment call: 814-440-3275.