May 9, 2013

Mercy Medical Center’s Palliative Care team to receive national award for quality

Mercy Medical Center’s Palliative Care team is receiving a national award in June for quality in palliative care at the annual meeting of the Supportive Care Coalition: Advancing Excellence in Palliative Care. The work of Mercy’s Palliative Care team is highlighted in an article about Supportive Care Coalition awards in the May 1 issue of Catholic Health World. Mercy Medical Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

As seen in Catholic Health World:

Supportive Care Coalition to give awards for spirituality, quality in palliative care

The Supportive Care Coalition: Advancing Excellence in Palliative Care will honor three palliative care teams and an individual for their innovative programs and compassionate work at the coalition's national conference in Anaheim, Calif., next month. The theme of the June 2-4 congress is "Leading Practices, Transforming Care."

"What better way to highlight that, than by saying here are some excellent examples of what people are doing in palliative care," said Tina Picchi, the coalition's executive director. The Portland, Ore.-based coalition includes CHA and 21 Catholic health systems in 43 states dedicated to high-quality care for the seriously ill and their loved ones by anticipating, preventing and relieving suffering.

Spirituality in Palliative Care Award
The 2013 Spirituality in Palliative Care Award will honor the Palliative Care Team at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance, Calif. The interdisciplinary team at the Providence Health & Services hospital was recognized for its leadership and innovation in advancing spiritual care practices in palliative care. It's one of the few such teams with a full-time palliative care chaplain.

Additionally, the team has created palliative care rotations for clinical pastoral education residents to advance the field of palliative care chaplaincy. The group, which does work that can be emotionally draining, also spent 18 months in the regular practice of team spiritual formation, including time for group reflection, examining how the team functioned, and how they were caring for themselves and their teammates.

Three Quality Awards to be given
The 2013 Quality Awards highlight the work of two teams and an individual who have improved the quality of palliative care within diverse care settings.

The Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System's palliative care team at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, La., will be honored for work evaluating the effectiveness of a formalized care program for managing pain in oncology unit patients with advanced cancer. A palliative care nurse practitioner worked in the oncology unit, which increased referrals to palliative care and shortened average length of stay after referral. The team's study of patients before and after treatment by the nurse practitioner found patients and caregivers had improved perceptions of better pain control after patients received palliative care and concluded there was a need for a palliative care nurse to be assigned to the oncology unit to assist in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer.

The Sisters of Charity Health System's Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio, worked to create its palliative care team, which will be honored, by relying on existing staff at the community hospital, providing training and expanding staffers roles to include palliative care.

Because the staff members have responsibilities in addition to palliative care, they worked on communication systems, making detailed notes or "good hand-offs" in a patient's electronic records so other members of the team have information about care a patient has received or what the patient might need, explained Karen Coughlin, administrative director of cancer services at Mercy Medical Center.

Team members keep in regular contact. Weekly meetings involving representatives from pastoral care, social work, discharge planning, hospice, home care, cancer services and palliative medicine allow team members to be assigned tasks within their discipline, said Coughlin. Home health care nurses on the team keep their hospital-based colleagues up-to-date on the status of patients after they are discharged.

Margaret Allee, the division director of patient safety and medical management at Providence Medical Group at Providence Health & Services in Portland, Ore., is being recognized with a Quality Award for Providence Medical Group's creation of an electronic Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment system. According to the award nomination, by creating the ePOLST system, Providence Medical Group has improved the process for documenting a patient's end-of-life wishes, increased the numbers of POLSTs completed for patients, improved continuity of care and the ability to honor patients' preferences.

Details on the June meeting
The palliative care congress is being held at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel in conjunction with the Catholic Health Assembly and the two groups will come together for a keynote speech by Dr. Ira Byock, director of palliative medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.

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