Tennessee-based Alleo Health System, the parent company of Hospice of Chattanooga and Palliative Care Services, has developed a hospice and palliative care program customized for cardiac disease patients, dubbed the Heart Touch Journey Program.
Among the program’s goals is reducing hospitalizations and readmissions among patients suffering from diseases of the heart and allow them to continue to age in place.
“The Heart Touch Journey Program significantly enhances Alleo Health System’s capacity for providing the same quality-of-life care to hospice and now palliative care patients for which we are known across 22 counties in southeast Tennessee, northwest Georgia, and western North Carolina,” said Tracy Wood, CEO of Alleo Health. “Heart Touch Journey provides a full range of medical, psychosocial and spiritual support to patients and their families so that they are not facing their challenging health journey alone.”
Nearly 18% of hospice patients suffer from heart failure or other cardiac illness, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization, the second most common type of diagnosis for those individuals. Cardiac illness trails only cancer in terms of primary diagnoses. More than 30% of hospice patients are afflicted with cancer.
Clinicians will call families that participate in the program each day and provide home visits when necessary. Heart Touch will include both hospice and palliative care services. A practitioner will be available to the patient 24-hours-a-day, and patients will receive the standard comfort kit containing the necessary medications for symptom management, including pain and anxiety.
To be eligible to participate in Heart Touch, the patient must present with a cardiac illness and comorbidities that can be managed in the home with the oversight of a physician and an interdisciplinary team. Patient who experience recurring symptoms such as weight gain or loss, anxiety, swelling of abdomen and limbs, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, congestion and sleeping during the day may also be eligible.
Alleo Health System came into existence last year when the non-profit Hospice of Chattanooga rebranded its network of hospice and palliative care providers, which serve 22 counties in Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina.
In addition to Hospice of Chattanooga Alleo is the parent company of Palliative Care Services, Good Shepherd Hospice, Comprehensive Care, and Kangaroo Kidz. Kangaroo Kidz is the Chattanooga region’s only pediatric specialty hospice and palliative care provider.
“Many of our palliative care services patients or hospice patients suffer from congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease,” said Greg Phelps, chief medical officer of Alleo Health System. “Our goal is to manage their symptoms and pain to increase their quality of life, not only for the patients themselves but also their families. This program seeks to reduce lengthy and uncomfortable hospital visits. To date, there have been no hospital readmissions for patients who have participated in this program.”