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NCH The First In Illinois To Be Accredited By Joint Commission For Palliative Care

Tue July 03 2012 5:48 am
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At Northwest Community Hospital (NCH), patients faced with serious or complex medical conditions have access to a multidisciplinary team of experts for an added level of medical guidance and social support services when it matters most. These specially trained physicians and clinical specialists are part of the Palliative Care Program at NCH, which recently earned Advance Certification for Palliative Care from The Joint Commission, the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare.

“Accreditation from The Joint Commission is a significant achievement for the hospital, and it speaks to the important role palliative care serves as we provide comprehensive, patient and family centered care,” said Karen Colby, director of NCH’s Palliative Care Program.

Palliative care is a relatively new medical specialty that aims to relieve the symptoms and stress of serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for patients by focusing on comfort and healing. Palliative care can begin at any stage of a life-altering illness and is not only for terminally ill patients.

NCH is the first hospital in Illinois and among the first 10 acute care hospitals in the nation to receive this formal designation, which was developed in 2011 by The Joint Commission. The new accreditation sets standards and acknowledges hospitals that provide comprehensive and holistic palliative care services to patients and families.

The Joint Commission’s evaluation process included an on-site visit with clinical leadership at NCH, in addition to a review of the hospital’s model of care and its quality care measures, like pain management and satisfaction. Among the requirement for certification is that palliative care consultations and services are available around the clock to patients of any age, from newborns and young children to adults.

Palliative care is a relatively new medical specialty that aims to relieve the symptoms and stress of serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for patients by focusing on comfort and healing. Palliative care can begin at any stage of a life-altering illness and is not only for terminally ill patients. Palliative care experts collaborate with the patient’s doctors to coordinate care that works simultaneously with treatments that have cure or recovery as a goal.

Timothy Short, MD, who is the Palliative Care medical director at NCH, explained that palliative care brings an added level of support and guidance to families during an overwhelming and complex medical situation. “Our experienced palliative care team will put together all the information and clinical perspectives in an understandable manner for patients and families to make informed decisions within the context of their personal goals and desires,” said Dr. Short.

To deliver this specialized level of care, NCH partners with Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter. The palliative care team is comprised of certified palliative medicine physicians, specially trained advanced practice nurses (APNs), a social worker and a hospital chaplain, who not only meet with patients and families in the hospital, but can also continue palliative care services once a patient goes home or transitions to a local skilled nursing facility.

In April, NCH was announced as a LIVESTRONG® Community Impact Project award recipient, which was a significant milestone in the hospital’s quest to apply for Advance Certification for Palliative Care from The Joint Commission.

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