Hayden Jordan, director of palliative care for senior care provider PruittHealth Home, has been named a 2022 Future Leader by Hospice News.
Future Leaders are individuals nominated by their peers. Candidates must be high-performing employees who are 40-years-old or younger, passionate workers who know how to put vision into action, and advocates for seniors and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.
The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of senior housing, skilled nursing, home health, and hospice care.
Jordan recently shared his thoughts with Hospice News about his career in hospice and palliative care, and the biggest forces of change at play in serious illness and end-of-life care.
What drew you to hospice and palliative care?
I don’t think there are a lot of 10-year-old kids running around who are dreaming of operating in long-term or post-acute care, and I certainly was no different. It’s probably a little more accurate to say that the industry found me in a way.
But I have to tell you, it’s beyond rewarding. I really can’t imagine putting my energy into anything different.
What would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you’ve come into this space?
We’ve had to kind of reinvent ourselves several different times. I think if you prioritize patient care, everything else kind of falls into place.
We are kind of behind the scenes in our industry. It gets complex when you start to try and navigate the ever-changing regulations, as well as reimbursement with not only [the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)] but commercial plans. It gets kind of convoluted.
If your care teams focus on and prioritize patient care, the rest of his kind of seems to take care of itself. That’s the biggest lesson.
If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of hospice and how the industry is going, what would it be?
I would recognize palliative care as being a definitive benefit in the eyes of Medicare, and I think we’re going to get there sooner rather than later.
This would just add tremendous value to the patients in our communities in a whole lot of ways — and get patients the proper access to the care that they need, when they need it. One challenge for us is we see a heavy Medicaid and Medicare population. Medicare identifies hospice as a definitive benefit that is covered, but palliative care not so much.
The way that we’re reimbursed and regulated is similar to a physician’s practice, and there are things that come along with that from a patient responsibility standpoint. So if I could change one thing, it would be for Medicare to see palliative care as a definitive benefit.
What are some things in the space that you foresee might change as you go into 2023? Or maybe the next couple of years?
Palliative care is trending.
It’s kind of the latest and greatest care platform in the industry, because of the ways it integrates with all care services and meets the patients where they are. It certainly puts a premium on wellness.
Palliative care can limit hospitalizations and drive down health care expenditures, which we’ve proven to be true. That said, in the next year and the coming years, I expect to see accelerated growth in community-based palliative care with respect to the number of providers. This is ultimately a great thing.
Three years ago, it was actually pretty hard to find a palliative care provider in a lot of areas, but that’s changing. I think in the next year, that trend is only going to continue. I think palliative care, specifically community-based palliative care, is going to be a household name. I think everyone’s going to have access to it in some respects. That landscape is going to get pretty competitive.
Looking beyond the next couple of years, how would you describe the future of hospice and palliative care?
Indispensable. As our population gets older and more chronic illnesses surge, hospice and palliative care are going to be indispensable.
The way that our the health care industry is set up right now, there’s a gap in care. You get sick; you go to the hospital; and then maybe there are some post-acute nuggets in there. If you want rehab you go to a nursing home, and then they discharge you to home health.
But between that and hospice, there’s a huge gap. A lot of patients get lost in that mix, and I think that’s starting to change. I think that’s where community-based palliative care comes into play. It’s going to be absolutely necessary, not only in the eyes of Medicare but for access to all patients.
If you could give any advice to yourself looking back to your first day in this field, what would it be and why?
This is easy: Prioritize taking care of your clinical staff.
I was thinking through some of those things when I started. But on day one, I was so worried about regulations and patient care and reimbursement that I kind of lost sight of some of our clinical staff meetings.
Our clinicians are amazing in the work that they do each and every day — taking care of patients during the worst days of their lives. We don’t meet anybody with a smile on their face. Unfortunately, that’s the reality. It’s a hard and sometime thankless job in a lot of ways.
Without our clinical teams, we’re nothing. It’s critical to treat those frontline clinicians as the heroes that they are, listen to them, and provide them with what they need when they need it. I’ve learned so much from them every single day, and I can’t thank them enough.
The one piece of advice that I would give any new administrator or operator is to really prioritize taking care of the clinical staff to avoid burnout. This is so critical in an already understaffed industry. A lot of nursing students or nurse practitioners or other clinicians didn’t go to school to work in palliative care. It truly is a calling, so you really want to kind of protect that.