Eastern Niagara Hospital and Niagara Hospice recently established a partnership to provide a high standard of care to seriously ill patients nearing the end of life. The two health care providers worked collaboratively to facilitate a contract that addresses the special needs of patients with a prognosis of approximately six months or less to live.
Traditionally, hospice services are started at home - wherever the patient resides. When their place of residence is a health care facility, Medicare guidelines require 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. 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.
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. By contracting with Niagara Hospice, other health care providers, including Eastern Niagara Hospital, complement their own care with the expertise of these hospice professionals.
Eastern Niagara Health System CEO Clare Haar said, "Another added benefit of the partnership between ENH and Niagara Hospice is that family members of ENH patients who utilized services from Niagara Hospice will now have access to bereavement services. Recognizing the entire family as the unit of care, Niagara Hospice bereavement counselors provide individual and family grief counseling, workshops, a grief resource library, a no-cost summer bereavement camp for children and memorial events throughout the year. We are vested in our community and have been since 1908. Being able to ensure our patients and their families receive the care and services they need through partnerships like this is not only beneficial, it's the right thing to do."
Eastern Niagara Hospital has two sites, in Newfane and Lockport.