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Palliative Care in the Northern Valley

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Overview:

The Palliative care team is up and running. This is a service provided by Sunshine Community Health Center (SCHC) to help meet the care needs of patients with significantly debilitating conditions and especially end-of-life care needs. Home health and hospice services do not extend to the Northern Valley and many patients were forced with the decision to suffer with unmet needs or move. Although our resources are more limited than a full hospice team, we have come up with creative strategies to meet many of our patients' needs to help people stay in their homes in the Northern Valley while facing these difficult conditions. Creating the Palliative care service involves training team members in new skills on how to evaluate and treat patients with these types of conditions. This is an ongoing process that will continue to improve/refine staff skills as we move forward.


Stage 1:

We have accomplished the first stage of development which involved getting our Palliative Care team service up and running. Our service has grown to where we are actively managing 4-6 patients per month. The majority of the care is done through the patient’s primary care provider and a Care Manager. This often includes home visits and telehealth visits as well as frequent check-in phone calls. Care for the patient and family often involves our behavioral health counselors as well. Care Managers have the most frequent contact with our patients and help to assess needs for medical equipment needed such as hospital beds, wheelchair ramps, and other adaptive equipment. They work as a liaison to the providers for orders and adjustments to care plans as needed between provider appointments.


Stage 2 - We are here:

I would describe our current status as in the second stage of development. In this stage, we are developing our resources further than our clinical staff. We have already been successful with matching some donated durable medical equipment (DME) with patients in need. We would like to develop this service further so that we can keep an inventory of equipment and supplies donated from some families that can be redirected to a new family in need of support. Many times with end-of-life care there are needs for particular medications that are not always readily available, especially when dealing with controlled substances. We are attempting to develop a relationship with a local valley pharmacy to be our end-of-life care medication supply resource so that we can have a dependable consistent supply of these meds available to our patients in need. We are currently laying the groundwork for the third stage of development.


Stage 3 - Coming soon!

The third stage will be the incorporation of volunteers into the Palliative care team services. Volunteers will have to meet the basic requirements of other SCHC volunteers including compliance with confidentiality laws. There will be a volunteer application to help organize volunteers by interests and skill sets.

  • Some may want to help with physical labor such as building wheelchair ramps and installing assistive devices such as grab bars, moving furniture, etc.

  • Some may be interested in helping with some household chores, cleaning, and cooking a meal.

  • Some may want to provide some visitation companionship, read a book, watch a movie, and provide social support.

  • Some volunteers may have more experience and skills that allow them to do some basic care assistance such as bandage changes, personal hygiene assistance, etc.

The goal for the team will be to develop an organized list of volunteers such that when a patient’s needs are identified, the appropriate volunteers can be mobilized to help make the patient’s experience that much better. We are at the point now where we are developing application materials and strategies for the recruitment of community volunteers.


The final stage of development will be the continued growth of our SCHC Team, both in personnel numbers and in types of services to meet the needs of the community as the needs expand.


Sunshine Community Health Center

1-907-376-2273 (CARE)

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