Lourdes Health System Launches New Palliative Medicine Program

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Names Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice as preferred provider for pain and symptom relief services at any stage of illness

"We recognize that Samaritan has been a leader in palliative care and are pleased to be creating this service that will undoubtedly fill an important need for our patients,” says Alexander J. Hatala, President and CEO of Lourdes Health System

Lourdes Health System has launched a Palliative Medicine consultation service effective April 1. Lourdes named Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice’s Palliative Medical Partners specialty practice as its Preferred Provider for this burgeoning field of medicine, announced Alexander J. Hatala, President and CEO of Lourdes Health System.

“As health care becomes ever more complex, it is important to provide patients and families with the resources to guide them through sometimes difficult decisions. We recognize that Samaritan has been a leader in palliative care and are pleased to be creating this service that will undoubtedly fill an important need for our patients,” Hatala said.

The demand for palliative care, recently granted specialty status by the American Board of Medical Specialties, is growing within American hospitals, according to a Perspectives editorial appearing in the March 6 New England Journal of Medicine. In that study, the authors conclude, “timely palliative care consultations have been shown to improve the quality of care, reduce overall costs and sometimes even increase longevity.”

While palliative care is most associated with hospice care delivered at the end of life, palliative specialists are increasingly being integrated earlier to improve patient and family quality of life. Palliative care specialists provide expert pain relief, symptom management and help with complex medical decision-making based on patient goals at any stage of illness.

Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice’s President/CEO Mary Ann Boccolini said, “As the regional leader for hospice and non-hospice palliative care, Samaritan looks forward to collaborating with the Lourdes medical community to integrate this specialty support for Lourdes patients and their families.”

Referrals to the Palliative Medical Partners service will include patients who are: coping with pain and other symptoms and who also need assistance navigating the health care system. In addition, services are available to help patients with complex decisions regarding available care options, no matter the stage of illness. Prime candidates for palliative consultations include patients with cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s HIV/AIDS, ALS, and Multiple Sclerosis, among others. Palliative Medicine specialists are often consulted to relieve pain and symptoms associated with serious illness such as shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and depression.

The Samaritan Palliative Medical Partners practice is headed by Samaritan’s Chief Medical Officer Stephen Goldfine, MD, DABFP, CAQGM, DABHPM, who holds board-certifications in Family Practice as well as Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

“With only 6,500 certified palliative medicine physicians in the US, there will not be enough physicians to meet the growing demand. Samaritan is very proud to have 4 full-time physicians (3 board certified and one board-eligible), a palliative trained Advance Practice Nurse, 2 nurse liaisons and a practice manager to meet the needs of patients within the Lourdes Health System and the community,” said Dr. Goldfine.

Lourdes Health System is one of southern New Jersey’s leading health care providers, with hospitals located in Camden and Willingboro. Lourdes Health System is sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY, and is a member of Catholic Health East, a health system with 34 hospitals on the East Coast.

Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice ─ a not-for-profit, non-sectarian organization ─ is the regional leader for palliative medicine, hospice care, geriatric care management, grief support and counseling and end-of-life education and advocacy. Last year, Samaritan provided $26 million of care for people in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer counties who were coping with elder care issues, serious illness and/or grief. Generous community support last year funded $1.25 million in essential, yet non-reimbursed, services over-and-above Samaritan services covered by Medicare, Medicaid, VA and commercial insurers.

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Jennifer McGowan-Smith
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