Palliative Care Program

The palliative care team is available for consults Monday through Friday 8 am – 5 pm.

Palliative care services are available to all adult inpatients at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital who are faced with a serious or life-threatening illness. The goal of the Palliative Care Program team is to improve the quality of life for patients by preventing and relieving the pain, symptoms and distress caused by serious illness. It is appropriate for both patients receiving curative treatments and for those near the end of life, whatever the diagnosis. Patients with many different diseases and illnesses can benefit from palliative care.

Examples of patients that may benefit include patients with:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Renal disease
  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Or those with a life-threatening injury

Services

The Palliative Care team offers a wide range of services to assist patients and their families:

  • Pain management
  • Relief from symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite
  • Social, psychological and spiritual support
  • Family meetings to assist decision-making and identifying goals of care

Team of Experts

The Palliative Care team includes a board-certified palliative care physician, a board-certified palliative care nurse practitioner, a licensed clinical social worker and a chaplain.

Medical Director - Dr. Elizabeth Poplin

Dr. Poplin is board-certified in palliative medicine and is an oncologist at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey who specializes in gastrointestinal cancer.

Nurse Practitioner - Ajinder Prajapati, APN, CCRN, AGACNP-C

Ajinder received her master's degree as acute care nurse practitioner with specialties in geriatrics and heart failure. Her background includes 20 years in cardiology before she moved into the role of a palliative care nurse practitioner. To contact Ajinder, please page (732) 437-3670 or email ajinder.prajapati@rwjbh.org

Social Worker – Alison C. Kepple, MSW, LSW

Alison earned her Masters in Social Work from the Rutgers School of Social Work, with a certificate in Aging and a concentration in Thanatology. She brings to the Palliative Care Team her experience in Hospice Care, Oncology, and Mental Health Care.

Chaplain - Gavan Meehan

Gavin jointed the RWJUH - New Brunswick team as a staff chaplain in 2017, specializing in oncology chaplaincy and palliative care. Previously, he served as the staff chaplain at Bridgeport Hospital and as a hospice chaplain for Constellation Health Services, in Connecticut. Gavan completed his CPE Residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital in 2015, after retiring from his prior career as an attorney. He holds degrees from Harvard College, Yale Divinity School and the University of Connecticut School of Law, and is a certified mediator. A parishioner at St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church, New Brunswick, Gavan is board certified through the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is palliative care the same as hospice care?

No. Hospice care is meant especially for patients close to the end of their lives whereas palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness.

When is the right time for palliative care?

Palliative care helps through all stages of illness, from the time of diagnosis and throughout curative treatments.

What can I expect from palliative care?

Palliative care can help relieve pain and other distressing symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and loss of appetite. It can help you to tolerate treatments and improve your ability to carry on with your life. Palliative care can also help to give you a better understanding of your illness and the choices that you have.

How can I get palliative care?

Speak to your attending physician to ask for a referral.