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Holy Name Announces Budget Appropriation Supporting End-of-Life Care Model in NJ

Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36) and former Senator and now Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole joined Holy Name Medical Center officials at Villa Marie Claire hospice to announce a state budget appropriation of $5 million to fund the development of a model for end-of-life care in New Jersey, where Medicare expenditures for related resources are among the highest in the nation.

“One of the most important healthcare reforms our state must address is improving care for New Jersey patients in the final chapters of their lives,” said Michael Maron, president and CEO of Holy Name Medical Center. “We know that while life-extending care and other medical treatments may lengthen life, it may be at the expense of quality of life. Our goal is to help patients and families understand the difference and maximize the moments they share in their final months, weeks, days or hours together. We are proud to lead a statewide effort to improve end-of-life care in New Jersey, and we thank Governor Christie for having the foresight to be a leader on this critical issue.”

According to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care Report, New Jersey is ranked lower than any other state in the nation in the use of hospice and palliative care. It also revealed New Jersey residents spend 44-percent more days in the intensive care unit compared to the average American and 30-percent more days in the hospital in the last six months of life.

“We believe that creating a standard for the appropriate use of end-of-life-care resources, introduced at the appropriate time, will result in a reduction in state and federal costs stemming from unnecessary hospital admissions, ER visits, procedures, tests, and treatment,” said Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36). “Of course, the most important goal we’re working towards is better quality of life for New Jersey residents and their families.”

“The conversation about end-of-life care is an important one that all families need to be having and that our policymakers need to address,” said former Senator and now Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “This funding supports the full spectrum of end-of-life care, encompassing the patient, family, caregiver, provider and community.”

The budget appropriation, sponsored by Senator Sarlo and Port Authority Chairman O’Toole, will support the project’s eight key initiatives, including the development of a model for end-of-life-care in New Jersey, which will address every aspect of care in the two years leading up to a person’s death and the 12 months following a person’s death; the development of education, training, and state certification courses for doctors, nurses, social workers, and other healthcare professionals; research comparing end-of-life-experience and quality of life for those enrolled and not enrolled in hospice programs; and policy recommendations in partnership with the Medical Society of NJ.

Medicare officials recently posted quality scores for the first time for more than 3,800 hospice providers on its new website, Hospice Compare, with the aim of helping consumers make more informed decisions about end of life care. Villa Marie Claire scored the highest average for quality in Bergen County. Quality scores were based on how hospices ranked in seven different measures, with national averages posted for each. Those measures include whether patients were screened for pain, pain assessment if pain was identified, shortness of breath assessment, timeliness of shortness of breath treatment, whether patients’ opioid-related constipation was treated, whether patients and caregivers were asked about treatment preferences, and whether patients and caregivers were asked about their beliefs and values at the beginning of hospice care.

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