|November Is National Hospice Month
Hospice Program of the Jefferson Health System Serving More Patients
The Palliative Care and Hospice Program of the Jefferson Health System (JHS) is embarking on an outreach effort that has greatly expanded the programs physician referral base and more than doubled its patient census.
In response to the needs of referral sources, the program established two new positions, leading to an upsurge in referrals and census activity, says Lin Pawlyk, LSW, Manager, Palliative Care Outreach and Education, Jefferson HomeCARE, JHS.
Having two fulltime case managers in place, one on Jeffersons Center City campus and one on the Main Line, has guaranteed same-day response to referrals as well as fulfilling other key roles such as pain consultations, discharge planning and patient and family education about hospice care, Ms. Pawlyk explains.
The two Palliative Care Case Managers are Susan Wadsworth, RN, covering Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Methodist Hospital, and Patty Murphy, RN, covering Main Line hospitals.
Led by the two case managers, the Hospice Programs outreach efforts have targeted physician practice offices as well as the residency education programs of Jeffersons Division of Internal Medicine directed by Gregory Kane, MD, and Department of Family Medicine directed by Janice Nevin, MD.
Since March, the programs average daily census has doubled to nearly 70. And its still growing, says the Hospice Programs Medical Director, Cliff Pemberton, MD, Lankenau Cancer Center. With the increasing interest of physicians from the JHS member institutions, we anticipate that not only our census will continue to grow within the next year, but patient length of stay on the program will also increase.
We are also bringing to the system nationally renowned speakers to discuss end-of-life-care issues, adds the Associate Medical Director, James D. Plumb, MD, Family Medicine, Jefferson University Hospital.
These issues are more important than ever before because of modern medicines ability to offer more aggressive treatment options than in the past. Yet, end-of-life options and issues are seldom taught in medical schools so we must rely on all professional education channels to teach them, he says.
Hospice Care Concept
The most frequent question we are asked is What is hospice and where is it located?. We must explain that the location for hospice care is the patients own home, in a familiar environment with the patients loved ones. This is the preferred choice that hospice patients make.
However, home can also mean, in addition to the patients residence, the home of a family member, an assisted living community, nursing home or any other arrangement, Ms. Pawlyk adds.
Another misconception is that hospice is mainly for indigent or cancer patients. It most definitely is not. People of all economic means with all diseases can elect hospice, Ms. Pawlyk says.
The JHS Hospice Program has developed an inpatient hospice program for patients requiring intensive symptom control which cannot be managed in a home setting. Patients from member hospitals of the JHS can also access this level of care as an interim to stabilize symptoms or to assist family members ability to cope. Set to open November 1, the inpatient program is located at Jeffersons Ford Road Campus.
The current JHS Hospice Program is an outgrowth of services previously provided by Community Health Affiliates and the acute care hospitals of Main Line Health. The JHS program collaborates with the longstanding Einstein Hospice and so has an increased capacity now to serve patients in Northeast Philadelphia.
The Hospice Program is administered by Tim Cousounis, Vice President, Jefferson HomeCARE, JHS. The program is Medicare-certified and JCAHO-accredited.
Physicians, patients and families who would like more information about the JHS Hospice Program should call 1-888-JEFF-999.