Hosparus Can Help

Hosparus chief medical officer shares thoughts about providing hospice care and encourages physicians to refer earlier

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LOUISVILLE With some 15 years of experience caring for patients with life-limiting illnesses, Jim Gaffney, MD, has gained valuable insights into end-of-life issues and the benefits of choosing hospice care sooner.

Gaffney, chief medical officer at Hosparus, says, “It’s rewarding to make the end of life a peaceful transition. Caring for terminally ill patients can be challenging for all who are involved because of complex medical issues and family dynamics. The Hosparus team works closely with the attending physician to achieve the common goal of patient comfort and helps the patient and family find comfort in what can be a chaotic and stressful situation.”

While health care professionals may acknowledge that hospice care is for the last several months of life, many wait until the last few days to refer. Research conducted at Mt. Sinai shows hospice patients have lower Medicare costs, reduced use of hospital services, and that hospice can improve care quality (Health Affairs 2013).

Gaffney adds, “I want doctors to know that the sooner they refer patients to us, the more we can help. In addition to the expert medical care, patients who are with us longer benefit from more of the psychosocial aspects of care provided by our social workers and chaplains. The entire family receives much needed support as well.”

Hospice care is for patients with any life-limiting illness with a six month life expectancy if the disease follows its normal course. Hosparus cares for patients with a variety of illnesses including chronic heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, liver disease, renal disease, and cancer – anything that limits the patient’s life.

Hosparus accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and many forms of private insurance. Thanks to its generous donors, Hosparus cares for patients and their families regardless of their ability to pay.

Gaffney notes, “What many don’t know is that as part of the Hospice Medicare Benefit, medications related to the terminal diagnosis are covered and most often delivered to the home. This also is true for durable medical equipment. This is a huge relief to the families we serve.”

He says, “In addition, Hosparus offers up to 13 months of bereavement care at no charge to Hosparus families after the death.”

For more than 35 years, Hosparus, a fully accredited non-profit hospice organization, has provided care, comfort, and counseling for people facing life-limiting illnesses in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Hosparus cares for more than 6,000 patients and their families each year.

The organization’s 450 health care professionals and 800+ volunteers provide:

control of symptoms such as pain, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and restlessness
medication management
personal care such as bathing, skin care, and light housekeeping
counseling and spiritual care
bereavement counseling.

All services are delivered wherever a patient calls home: a family residence, a nursing home, an assisted living facility, an inpatient unit, or a hospital. For more information, visit www.hosparus.org or call 800-264-0521.

HOSPARUS NAMES JIM GAFFNEY AS ITS CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER

Hosparus recently named Jim Gaffney, MD, senior vice president/chief medical officer. Gaffney joined Hosparus as full-time medical director of the organization’s Barren River and Central Kentucky locations four years ago. In his new role, he provides medical oversight and physician supervision throughout Hosparus’ 33-county footprint.

Gaffney is a graduate of the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario. He is board certified in hospice and palliative medicine and family medicine.