Partnering to Build a Community Hospital Palliative Care Program
Karen M. Colby RN, MS, NEA-BC
Director Oncology/Palliative Care/Orthopedics/Med-Surg
Neurology/inpatient Wound Care
Phyllis Cerone RN, MS, APN
Director Critical Care/Respiratory Car
Northwest Community Hospital
800 West Central Road
Arlington Heights, Illinois 60005
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Northwest Community Hospital (NCH), a 350 bed community hospital, identified both a community and patient care services need to establish a palliative care program. Located in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, NCH is centered in a community where 20% of the population is over the age of 65 and numerous nursing homes are in the hospital service area. With 53% of our inpatients are over the age of 65. Establishing a program to help manage the chronic critical illness of patients became a priority in the NCH Community.
NCH evaluated the feasibility of developing a program internally or developing a partnership with an established Palliative Care Program in the regional area. After extensive research and an attempt to establish an internal program the decision was made to partner with Midwest Palliative Care and Hospice CareCenter. Midwest is a Palliative Care Program that has been established in the Chicagoland area and is noted nationally for their leadership in Palliative Care. The partnership was formalized 18 months ago. The implementation took place over 4 months.
The benefits of the partnership were quickly evident:
- expert resources available to develop program and educate staff
- dedicated Palliative Care physician on site to provide Medical Leadership
- experienced Palliative Care staff on site to provide expert consultative services (APNs, social worker, chaplain)
- quick adaption by NCH physicians and staff because expertise available daily
Outcomes after 18 months (some not all) include:
- rapid launch of a quality Palliative Care Program
- Palliative care consults have tripled, second Physician being recruited, shift towards earlier consultation
- Hospice discharges have increased
Integration Strategies used:
- Medical Director on site, established team integrated into hospital and committees
- Joint Integration Committees established to include:
- Joint Executive Steering Committee with shared vision by both organizations
- Joint Palliative Care Workgroup and subgroups to integrate policies and protocols, educate, market and measure program outcomes and growth. Chaired by a member of both organizations.
Summary: Partnership with an established Palliative Care Program is an effective business model for implementing a palliative care program in a community hospital. Integration of the program partners into the community hospital culture is key to ensure success of the program. Development of shared strategic plan and vision key to move forward the program to success and future growth.
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