- Associated Press - Saturday, November 22, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) - An Indiana hospice group plans to expand its services to patients who aren’t terminally ill.

Columbus-based Our Hospice of South Central Indiana was the first hospice in Indiana and one of the first in the nation to work with terminally ill patients, The Republic reported (https://bit.ly/1uLH48r ). Now it plans to collaborate with family physicians to tend to the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of some patients who have chronic conditions but aren’t terminally ill.

President Laura Hurt said the group has been planning the expanded reach for a year but intends to move slowly, limiting care to those with cardiac and chronic, obstructive pulmonary disease.

“We’re opening a new door,” Hurt said, referring to relief of patient symptoms. “And we want to start out very slowly.”

Our Hospice staff will partner with physicians of cardiac and COPD patients “to address specific symptoms caused by their illness or even their treatment,” Hurt said.

Because the new program isn’t limited to patients who are terminally ill, care can be given “at any point during the illness,” she noted.

A goal of the program is to reduce emergency room visits by addressing patients’ needs before they become a crisis.

Theresa Ford, Our Hospice’s director of clinical services, said the specialized team approach of the new program will help increase communication with patients’ providers and improve symptom management.

“We’ll be looking at the overall well-being of the patient and their family and everything going on around them,” Ford said.

The program is expected to see 260 patients in 2015.

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Information from: The Republic, https://www.therepublic.com/


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