NorthShore HealthSystem Palliative Care accredited
Contributing columnist Lenna Scott
Updated: September 7, 2012 5:25PM
The differences between palliative care and hospice are often misunderstood.
The NorthShore University HealthSystem Palliative Care program is working to educate the community and believes its newest accreditation by the Joint Commission will help them achieve that goal.
“People don’t understand it, where that all fits in,” said Dr. Michael Marschke, MD, director of Hospice and Palliative Care for NorthShore University HealthSystem.
Palliative care focuses on relieving pain of serious illness at any stage of disease, whereas hospice care focuses on end of life. “There is no reason why you can’t focus on comfort and do your aggressive treatments at the time.”
The Palliative Care program at NorthShore University HealthSystem was recently honored with an elite accreditation by the Joint Commission, earning Advanced Certification in palliative care, making it one of only two programs in Illinois and one of 16 in the country to receive that status.
“Its a new accreditation that Joint Commission just created. To me it validates what we’ve been doing as far as palliative care and comfort care,” Marschke said. “This accreditation shows we are leading the way amongst area providers.”
Marschke believes that the accreditation supports NorthShore’s efforts to focus on quality initiatives that can help improve the quality of care that they are delivering. “How can we make pain better, easier. How can we provide psychosocial and emotional support.”
He said another advantage of the NorthShore program is it is integrated into the four hospitals in the network: Evanston, Skokie, Glenbrook and Highland Park. He believes this allows palliative care approaches to be introduced earlier and be more collaborative in addressing issues involving pain, the use of medical technology and even determining the most appropriate setting for delivering care.
“We’ve been able to implement bedside rounds that involve the social workers, doctors, nurses, chaplain, the patient and their family working as a team on the patient’s goals and the family’s goals,” Marschke said. “We work as a team to bring dignity to their lives and honor their wishes as they navigate trying times.”
Marschke said current research also indicates that by integrating palliative care into treatment earlier, the quality of care increases while symptoms decrease and in some cases patients actually live longer.
“The satisfaction with the overall care improves and the cost goes down,” he said. “There’s a whole lot of stuff that’s happening with illness years before ‘the end’. This has allowed us to integrate comfort care way upstream.”
The accreditation to NorthShore University HealthSystem’s program was granted following an extensive onsite review from the Joint Commission and will involve an ongoing follow-up process. The Joint Commission certification program is an independent evaluation, and according to the Joint Commission website, recognizes “hospital inpatient programs that demonstrate exceptional patient and family-centered care and optimize the quality of life for patients (both adult and pediatric) with serious illness.”
Lenna Scott is the marketing director at The Wealshire, a short-term rehab, skilled nursing and assisted living community in Lincolnshire. She lives in Buffalo Grove with her husband and two children. Contact her at email@example.com.