Celtic Healthcare: Educating Communities About Palliative Care Services

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Celtic Nov.  2013By Kathleen Ganster

Healthcare may mean medicine and nurses, but it may also mean a 160- pound furry creature. 

Life expectancy has increased and increased over the years, but is it quantity versus quality that matters most?

It is an interesting question and one posed by Jodi McKinney, Director of Corporate Communications for Celtic Healthcare.

McKinney cited important facts in the healthcare world of today’s society:

  • 75 percent of American die in a hospital or skilled nursing facility when most would have preferred to die at home;
  • Medicare physician visits per enrollee for the last six months of life average 40 visits;
  • 46 percent of these enrollees saw 10 or more different physicians during that time, and
  • These same enrollees average 6 physician visits per month during the last 26 weeks of their life.

And perhaps most concerning of all, $60 billion is spend in Medicare funds for doctor and hospital bills in the last two months of life, but it is estimated that 20 to 30 percent of those costs have no meaningful impact, according to McKinney’s research and Dartmouth Atlas statistics.
With shrinking Medicare fund availability, changes to reimbursement models, and penalties to hospitals for avoidable readmissions, Celtic is looking for ways to support hospitals and physicians in developing ways to work together to provide the best patient-centered care.

Patients and families often don’t know what to do or where to run, so one of Celtic’s critical goals is educating our communities about palliative care services and working with hospitals and physicians to provide this service to their patients.

Recognizing that living longer has little value if the quality of life isn’t desirable, Celtic has created their Journey Program, an acknowledgement of the fact that life is a journey.

“At Celtic, we recognize that every one of us is individual and unique, and so are our illnesses and our responses to treatment,” she said.

The Journey Program allows Celtic’s patients and their families to choose the type and location of treatment for the end-of-life aspect of their lives’ journey.

“Some may chose every advance medical treatment available – which is completely their right – while others may simply seek comfort and quality – but it is an individual choice and one that we must be willing to discuss,” she said.

It is because of these statistics that the Journey Program is even more important to today’s seniors.

“We embrace the knowledge, the ability, and the great privilege to change these situations and improve these end-of-life experiences,” McKinney said.

Celtic Healthcare provides the medical care and pain management for their patients, but also takes an extra step to provide emotional and psychological support.

“By doing this, we’re also improving and appropriate reallocating and reducing excessive Medicare and other healthcare spending,” she said.

Celtic’s Journey Program includes the concept of “Ministry of Presence,” an added element to healthcare. While the medical aspects of the healthcare are essential, so are other aspects of care.

“Ministry of Presence may mean something as simple as showing up to listen, not preach to; watch with and not look at; enter into a patient’s pain and listen to their anguish; show  love and mercy; and bring joy and peace. Sometimes it is just being present with a patient right where they are at that point of time that matters the most,” McKinney said.

And that care may mean thinking outside of the box on the more traditional forms of medical care.

An important member of the Celtic Healthcare team is that 160-pound critter mentioned earlier – a Great Pyrenees/Akbash rescue dog who is also a certified hospice therapy dog.

“Jackson” visits with hospice patients, giving them love and attention, or just a friend to sit with.

“He is one of Celtic’s most popular volunteers,” said McKinney.

Those same “out-of-box” guidelines have also parlayed into other patient care including extraordinary team members who don’t think twice about going the extra mile to care for a patient seven days in a row to ensure continuity of care, music therapy, and fulfilling last wishes such as fishing trips, attending weddings and feeling raindrops – things that have nothing to do with traditional health practices.

Excellence in Patient Care isn’t just a saying at Celtic Healthcare, it is a philosophy.

“Our Celtic team makes it our goal to consider patient-centered, value-based care. We are simply good people with caring hearts that have commitments to our communities and seek to be advocates for the cause,” she said.

She continued, “We don’t want put our delivery healthcare in a neat little box. We strive to make it as unique as each individual patient we serve.”

For more information about Celtic Healthcare services, visit www.celtichealthcare.com.