During April in an effort to improve the quality of life for patients and their families who are dealing with serious illnesses.
Dr. Mark Yackley serves a dual role as an Internal Medicine Physician with the Hutchinson Clinic and Medical Director for Hospice and Homecare of Reno County.
Dr. Yackley, along with staff members from Hospice and Homecare of Reno County and Hutchinson Regional Medical Center (HRMC) including Advance Practice Registered Nurses and Masters Level Social Workers are taking specialized care to the next level of excellence with the establishment of this new and innovative program.
Patients have let us know in no uncertain terms that their top priority is relief from pain and attention to social, emotional, spiritual and practical needs. Without exception, these same patients desire increased communication on their prognosis and goals for care and input on establishing the types of services received. Then, while dealing with a major illness, they are also forced to deal with a complex medical system that adds stress to both patient and family.
The Palliative Care Program will be guided by seven goals essential to the program’s success: improve quality of life, manage symptoms, minimize pain, advance care planning, improve patient and family satisfaction, reduce emergency department visits and decrease the number of hospital readmissions.
Here is how the Palliative Care Program works: The patients attending or specialist physician may order a palliative care consultation while they are in the hospital or following a visit in the physician’s office. Next, the Palliative Care team will meet with the patient and/or family during their hospitalization at HRMC or in their own home, which may include an assisted living facility or nursing home.
Palliative Care professionals will make recommendations for the next step of care. Each step of the process may include a conference with patients, families, and/or physicians.
The Palliative Care team may continue to see the patient in their home setting as needed for further recommendations for treatment and symptom management and support.
This new and innovative program should not be confused with Hospice care, although Hospice and Homecare of Reno County is overseeing the program.
In actuality, some patients may never choose or qualify for Hospice care, but all are eligible for services under the Palliative Care Program.
Some may ask why there is urgency to establish the Palliative Care Program, but a case could be made that due to the nation’s demographics, we can’t afford not to.
As the nation’s lifespan increases, our nation’s hospitals are overflowing with sometimes frail and older adults who would prefer to live out their twilight years in the friendly confines of their home or assisted living facility. It goes without saying, that hospitalization is an option everyone wishes to avoid, if at all possible.
It is estimated that in 15 short years the number of Americans beyond the age of 85, will double.
At the same time, it has been proven that a high caliber Palliative Care Program can reduce lengthy hospital stays along with the high utilization of critical care, along with other resources. Patient and family satisfaction has shown a marked improvement in cities that have instituted Palliative Care Programs.
Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System has been in the forefront in establishing Care Transition Programs. Ten years ago, in 2005, a program was established at HRMC to assist pulmonary patients following their discharge from the hospital. Then, in 2014, Hospice and Homecare of Reno County working in conjunction with HRMC joined forces to establish a Care Transition program to assist non-pulmonary patients following their discharge from the hospital.
It was my good fortune to join Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System in July 2011 and as the years go by, I am more and more impressed with the quality of healthcare professionals that are employed here. These employees arrive at work each day seeking new and creative ways to provide comfort care to the patients we serve. I often refer to our employees as trailblazers for the new ideas they pursue on almost a daily basis.
It goes without saying that the Palliative Care Program is one more sterling example of what is possible if employees within our affiliates put our heads together to formulate new programs that will have a lasting benefit to those that we serve.
The Palliative Care Program is unique, to say the least, and is one of the first of its kind in our area and Kansas as a whole.
The Palliative Care Program is a win-win for patients, families, physicians, and all medical providers.
The program focuses on what matters to the patient versus what is the matter with them, with the end result being that the patient receives care they really want.