Be accountable to those served by your organization

It is essential for all organizational leaders to maintain best practices and the highest ethical standards.

This is important not only to preserve an organization’s reputation, but to uphold the mission, and to deliver on a promise of quality and customer satisfaction. Perhaps nowhere is this more magnified than in the delivery of health care. National health care policy is focused on protecting patients, eliminating fraud and ensuring high-quality care.

Today’s regulatory environment provides all health care providers — including hospice — with an opportunity to deliver exceptional performance despite the many operational and financial challenges posed by the rapidly evolving climate.

A key benchmark
Certification is one of the benchmarks of knowledge and expertise in our specialized field. It should be a key focus area for all hospice organizations. Certification is not mandated; it is voluntarily sought and earned by health care professionals.

However, it is widely recognized by the government, medical providers, insurers and patients themselves as an objective, fact-based benchmark for achieving the highest level of competence.

Because it is voluntary, supporting staff in this endeavor is essential. At Hospice of the Western Reserve, we encourage staff by offering increased incentives, providing ongoing guidance from our education team and making study guides available to assist during the certification process.

All physicians are board certified in hospice and palliative medicine. A large percentage of nurses, social workers and other allied health care professionals are also certified in their specialties.

In the U.S., there are currently 17,000 practicing hospice and palliative care certified nurses, so our organization was honored recently when three of our nurses received national awards recognizing their dedication and expertise among peers.

Denise DiMare, who leads our referral, assessment and liaison teams, was named Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse of the Year, and Bob Phillips-Plona, director of residential services at our three inpatient hospice houses, was named Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator of the Year.

Mary Kay Tyler, vice president of quality, was designated as one of 68 Fellows in palliative nursing in the U.S. The “Fellow” designation is reserved for those considered to be at the top of their profession who “provide evidence of progressive leadership in the field of palliative nursing.”

Many variables
As with all medical care, there are many variables when it comes to choosing a hospice. Families who have received care for loved ones are frequently ambassadors and willing to share their experiences and observations.

In addition, an organization’s history, its number of years operating in and serving the local community and its percentage of certified professional care providers are fact-based barometers that can be useful in gauging hospice quality and performance.

In seeking care, it has never been more important to do the research and ask the right questions. And never more important to have the most experienced team available and accountable for your family’s care and support.

William E. Finn is president and CEO at Hospice of the Western Reserve