Oneonta, N.Y.-based Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care has rebranded as Helios Care to better reflect its full range of services and set the stage for expanding the hospice’s footprint.
The name change comes at a time when hospices nationwide are diversifying their services to offer patients and families a broader continuum of care and engage them before they become hospice eligible.
“Helios Care will allow us to spread to areas beyond the Catskills and go to areas where service is needed,” said Connier Jastremski, board chair for Helios Care, said. “Our staff is well prepared to do that and we want to continue to provide that service in the best way that we can.”
Currently serving three counties, plans are underway for Helios to expand to five more counties in the surrounding area. This effort would expand the hospice provider’s potential patient base from 140,000 individuals to an estimated 600,000 people.
Among the reasons for the name change, Helios cited potential discomfort among the public with the terms “hospice” and “palliative care,” which are often misunderstood designations that can cause anxiety for some patients, according to Helios.
“The term ‘palliative care’ has a negative connotation and may act as a barrier to early patient referrals. Rebranding has thus been proposed as a strategy to reduce the negative perceptions associated with palliative care,” a 2017 study in the Journal of Health Care Organization, and Financing reported. “For example, using the term ‘supportive care’ instead of ‘palliative care’ in naming palliative care units has been proposed in several studies.”
Hospice utilization is low in New York state, which at 30.6% ranks 49th in the nation for the number of Medicare-enrolled decedents that elect to receive hospice care, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. Utah has the highest utilization rate at 59.4%
Helios is not the only hospice to change its brand to use more general terminology that reflects a wide range of health care services.
Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care in Santa Barbara County in California two weeks ago adopted the name VNA Health.
“Our board of directors and leadership team embraced this endeavor three years ago to address confusion in the marketplace and to strategically position this organization for continued success so that we can serve our community for another 100 years,” said Lynda Tanner, CEO of VNA Health.