Among the Elite for Palliative Care

Northwestern Medicine
Palliative Care July 03, 2014
Doctor holding patients hand and checking pulseLake Forest Hospital has received advanced palliative care certification from The Joint Commission, a designation that recognizes exceptional care for patients and their loved ones in cases of life-changing or life-threatening medical conditions.

“We are one of only four hospitals in Illinois to receive this certification, and we are proud to be among the elite,” says Jenny Prescia MSN, RN, ACM, CCDS, director of Case Management at Lake Forest Hospital.

The Joint Commission, a national nonprofit healthcare accreditation and certification organization, established its Advanced Certification Program for Palliative Care to recognize hospital programs that take an interdisciplinary approach to heightening the quality of life for patients with serious illness as well as their family members.

“Palliative care is about providing physical, emotional, spiritual and social support to patients with chronic or acute conditions,” Prescia says.

Lake Forest Hospital started developing its palliative care program in 2011. Last year, based on votes from staff and community members, the hospital received a grant from the nonprofit Livestrong Foundation to seek The Joint Commission certification. 

“We thank Livestrong for providing the resources that assisted us in obtaining our goal of becoming a certified program,” says Melissa Frank, clinical quality and patient safety manager at Lake Forest Hospital. 

“We also thank the members of our staff and the community who voted for us,” Prescia adds.

Prescia says the hospital’s partnership with Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter helped secure the certification. Through the partnership, board-certified palliative care physicians and advanced practice registered nurses from Midwest CareCenter can consult with a patient’s primary care team to support the physician in developing the patient’s plan of care, Prescia says. 

“The Joint Commission representatives conducting site visits at Lake Forest Hospital commented on the wonderful collaboration they saw in everything we do, and that speaks to the great team we have put together,” says Gordon Wood, MD, MSCI, FAAHPM, director of Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care at Lake Forest Hospital. 

Nurses, chaplains and social workers play roles in providing palliative care services, as well. While nurses help with symptom management, chaplains provide spiritual support to patients and their families. Social workers offer recommendations for support services outside the hospital, from follow-up care to counseling.

The palliative care program also honors patients’ wishes in making decisions about their ongoing care, such as treatment options, post acute care support and the goal of their care, Prescia says. Plus, the care team can offer assistance with completing “do not resuscitate” forms and advance directives to ensure their wishes are in writing in the event the patient cannot make his or her own decisions.

“Our advanced palliative care certification is validation that our interdisciplinary team incorporates holistic care for all our patients,” Prescia says. “Combined with our other Joint Commission certifications for stroke and chest pain, it acknowledges the excellent care we provide.”
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