Dr. David Harmon, MD, a board-certified physician specializing in palliative medicine, has joined the staff at Alton Memorial Hospital. As a part of the palliative care team, he will provide comprehensive services to help relieve the pain, symptoms and burden of serious illness for patients and their families.
He is a member of BJC Medical Group. Primary care physicians as well as AMH physicians can refer patients to Dr. Harmon.
Dr. Harmon, a Jerseyville resident, brings a variety of experiences ranging from delivering babies to working as an Emergency Room physician. He was a family physician for 30 years in Greene, Jersey and Calhoun counties, and most recently served as a hospitalist and ER director at Jersey Community Hospital.
Dr. Harmon got into the field of palliative care as a result of his mother’s illness.
“My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 5 years old,” he said. “Her ongoing battle with cancer occupied much of the next 14 years, and my father and I were blessed with providing her with care in our home when she died following my freshman year in college. This was before hospice care became a viable option, and our family physician provided an excellent role model of the difference a caring physician can make to both my mother and my family. Coming back to palliative/hospice medicine has allowed me to return to the reason I entered medicine.”
Originally from Bartonville, Ill., Dr. Harmon received his medical degree from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. After graduating from medical school, he completed his residency in family medicine at the Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, IA.
“I’m excited to join the palliative care team at Alton Memorial Hospital,” Dr. Harmon said. “Dr. (John) Hoelscher and Ceonda Rees have done a tremendous job in initially establishing palliative care at Alton Memorial, and I will be utilizing their expertise in expanding on that. I will be working closely with Dr. Allison Jordan from Christian Hospital and Dr. Patrick White at BJC to coordinate our efforts in integrating our program at Alton Memorial with the BJC system.”
Dr. Harmon also serves as a captain on the Jerseyville Volunteer Fire department and has lived in Jerseyville for 31 years. He enjoys hunting, fishing, playing the guitar, reading and spending time with his three sons and daughter-in-laws, four grandchildren and wife, Lois.
Palliative medicine is a specialty that was developed to help care for patients with chronic diseases that have symptoms which are difficult to control such as chronic obstructive lung disease, congestive heart failure, renal failure, and different types of cancer, and which often result in frequent hospitalizations. Most of these conditions are not curable. As a result, the focus of palliative care is often to improve the quality of a patient’s life by improving their pain and anxiety.
An additional component of palliative care is hospice care, which involves improving the quality of a patient’s life in the last six months of his or her life. End-of-life discussions with patients and their families are a difficult but vital component to hospice care in setting goals to ensure that physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are met as death approaches.