Suncoast Hospice Receives Grant to Increase Access to Available End-of-Life Services for Pinellas County Residents

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Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, has created a program with Diagnostic Clinic Medical Group (DCMG) designed to help physicians and patients engage in important end-of-life conversations so that patients and caregivers can establish a plan for their health care that is centered on their goals and choices.

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"Having these important conversations earlier can significantly improve the quality of life for patients and their families,” said Rafael J. Sciullo, President and CEO of Empath Health and its integrated network of care.

Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, has created a program with Diagnostic Clinic Medical Group (DCMG) designed to help physicians and patients engage in important end-of-life conversations so that patients and caregivers can establish a plan for their health care that is centered on their goals and choices.

The Timely Access Partnership (TAP) brings Suncoast’s expertise into DCMG’s multi- specialty physician practice. A Registered Nurse (RN) on-site at the clinic will collaborate with the physician, patient, and caregiver(s). In these sessions, patients will have the opportunity to clarify their goals and preferences for care through written documents and medical orders such as advance directives and Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST).

When a physician determines a palliative approach to care is indicated, patients will also be able to discuss palliative care options including hospice care when recommended. The TAP program is being funded through a grant from the Retirement Research Foundation, and services began in November at DCMG’s main campus in Largo.

“Having these important conversations earlier can significantly improve the quality of life for patients and their families,” said Rafael J. Sciullo, President and CEO of Empath Health and its integrated network of care. “With the help of Diagnostic Clinic Medical Group and their physicians, we will be able to reach more people in the community and ensure patients have an opportunity to identify their end-of-life care wishes in advance so their care can be carried out on their own terms.”

“We often find that patients, families, and physicians are reluctant to discuss end of life issues. In fact, more than 40% of patients do not access hospice care until their last week of life, and sadly many receive care for a day or less. The goal of this partnership is to focus more on providing solutions for life and help patients identify what kind of care they desire should an end-of-life scenario arise,” said Dr. James F. Rivenbark, Chief Medical and Operations Officer at Diagnostic Clinic Medical Group.

About Suncoast Hospice: Suncoast Hospice was established in 1977 by a group of volunteers who realized the value of hospice care and wanted to bring it to their community. As a member of Empath Health, we are a not-for-profit, community-based organization that provides care compassion and comfort to thousands of Pinellas County residents. To learn more go EmpathHealth.org.

About Diagnostic Clinic Medical Group: Diagnostic Clinic Medical Group is a multi-specialty medical practice that was established in 1969. Its 100 providers serve over 100,000 active patients in 5 locations including Palm Harbor, Clearwater, Largo, and St. Petersburg, Florida. DCMG functions as a highly integrated care delivery model with primary care, medical specialists, surgeons, laboratory, advanced imaging, and many ancillary services; all of which are linked by a common electronic medical record to provide cost effective superior outcomes with outstanding patient experience.

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Jennifer Vickery
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