Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

September 14, 2013

ENH, Niagara Hospice working together

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Eastern Niagara Hospital and Niagara Hospice have established a partnership that will “provide the gold standard of care to seriously ill patients nearing the end of life,” the organizations announced this week.

The two health care providers worked together to facilitate a contract that will address the special needs of patients with a prognosis of approximately six months or less to live. It allows Eastern Niagara Hospital to complement their own care with the expertise of Niagara Hospice professionals.

Traditionally, hospice services are started at home wherever the patient resides. When their place of residence is a health care facility, Medicare guidelines require that the facility contract with a hospice provider in order to provide hospice services. Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance providers include a hospice benefit for their members.

“As the only hospice provider in Niagara County, we are privileged and dedicated to serve our most seriously ill residents and provide support services to their family caregivers,” said Kay Dekker, Niagara Hospice vice president of hospice services. “The addition of a contract to provide hospice services allows our organizations to build on the excellent relationship we have always shared, while also providing more services and more care to patients and families accessing the many excellent services of Eastern Niagara Hospital.”

Hospice care emphasizes comfort for people with advanced illness. By focusing on providing relief from symptoms, pain and the stress of a serious illness, improved quality of life for both the patient and the family can be achieved, ENH and Niagara Hospice said. Hospice care is appropriate for individuals when the prognosis is approximately six months or less to live if the disease were to run its normal course.

Some patients receive hospice care beyond six months. In fact, studies show that people with end-of-life illnesses who choose hospice care often live longer than patients who do not elect hospice services, ENH and Niagara Hospice said.

Ideally, an admission into a hospice program occurs where the individual lives. Unfortunately, many referrals for hospice care still come so late in the disease process that the patient is too ill to return home from the hospital. Contracts between hospice providers and hospitals within the same service area ensure that those patients and their family members receive skilled hospice services and the support they need. Hospice services include physical, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual and bereavement care.

Niagara Hospice services and expertise in end-of-life care are provided by physicians, pharmacists, nurses, medical social workers, massage therapists, spiritual and bereavement counselors. Services are also provided by hospice aides, homemakers and volunteers that perform a variety of tasks.

Additionally, Niagara Hospice Assistant Medical Director Dr. Sarina Bax DeBiaso holds board certification in both hospice and palliative medicine and general surgery. Hospice and palliative medicine is a subspecialty that places increased attention on end of life care.