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California Hospices Unite Into State Network

Reported by Nic Mcvicker

There are more than 4,300 hospice providers nationwide, and the Centers for Disease Control numbers show that a little less than 40% of those are non-profit. Here in California, the nonprofit hospice providers plan to join forces.

Jan Jones of The Elizabeth Hospice in San Diego spoke with KPBS Evening Edition anchor Ebone Monet to discuss the California Hospice Network.

Q: What’s the vision for the California Hospice Network?

A: Three nonprofit programs came together to form the California hospice network so that we could join forces to create a network of non-profit programs serving our local communities, keeping our local flavor, so that we continue to be community oriented as nonprofit organizations. But we also benefit from consolidation. Many businesses these days are consolidating to create economies of scale, to create best practices. That's really why we wanted to form the California Hospice Network to gain economies of scale, and to also encourage best practices among us.

Q: You mentioned that you've been in the healthcare industry for a very long time but hospice care is unique. Can you talk about the difference when it comes to providing quality care for hospice patients?

A: Hospice care is really a system of healthcare delivery that is very much patient and family oriented. We have an interdisciplinary team of individuals, nurses, doctors, social workers, chaplains, personal care aides and volunteers who make up a team to deliver care to the person who is living with the illness as well as their family.

Q: With these individual nonprofits working independently now coming together in this network, how do you get all of the nonprofits to adopt similar practices?

A: Well and that's a very good question and one that we will always be grappling with. Right now there are three of us in the network. We are hoping to recruit certainly more nonprofit hospices to join with us in the network. As we go along we meet each and every month. We speak every week and we bring up certain items about the care that we deliver, and talk about how we do it. What seems to be working best, and then we've agreed that when we do that we will adopt those practices. So we have to agree to give up something in order to gain something and that's a good thing.

Q: Do you envision the California Hospice Network would help to fill a void?

A: A nonprofit hospice is one that is really focused on their own community. It's a very locally driven kind of care that may be different in San Diego than it is in Santa Cruz or San Mateo, which is where the other two hospices are located. So we really are focused on serving our communities the best way we can. And so some of the other things that we do some of the back office, for example, if we can consolidate some of those functions so that we can focus more on the community that we serve...that is the whole purpose of having the network.

Q: Is there anything that California lawmakers could possibly do that would make it so that more people here in California can receive hospice care during their last days.

A: You know at this point in time we've had a very good relationship with the legislators, with our assembly, and they've been very supportive of the things that we've asked from them. One of the things that they did recently was support hospices in providing care prior to the point when a person becomes actually eligible for hospice care. And so we're able to reach out to people sooner and deliver the same kind of specialized care to people before they're actually eligible for hospice, which means it's all very much individualized and very special for the people who are receiving it.

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