The Miriam Hospital is launching a program that combines palliative care and emergency medical services.
The Rhode Island-based hospital is piloting a new approach for its emergency department (ED) patients that provides palliative care options for those with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
Through the program, the HopeHealth palliative care team at The Miriam Hospital will conduct monthly consultations with patients to assess their ongoing care needs following an ED visit or hospitalization.
Offering palliative care in an emergency setting is valuable to both immediate and long-term patient outcomes, according to Dr. David Curley, medical director of The Miriam Hospital’s emergency department.
“A visit to an emergency department can be one of the most vulnerable times of a person’s life,” Curley said in an announcement. “This pilot program brings those consultations directly to those patients being evaluated in the ED. For some, this intervention amidst the busy activity of the emergency department can eliminate an unnecessary stay in the hospital or additional invasive and costly testing.”
The Miriam Hospital brought in more than $535 million in revenue during 2020, the most recent year data are available, according to its IRS 990s.
The hospital is part of the Lifespan Health System. Established in 1994, the nonprofit health system’s network also includes behavioral health care provider Gateway Healthcare, Rhode Island Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Newport Hospital and Bradley Hospital, which provides pediatric psychiatric services.
The Miriam Hospital recently added Dr. Leah McDonald, hospice and palliative care physician at Hope Health, to its ED team to help lead the program. HopeHealth is Lifespan’s inpatient hospice and palliative care arm and one of three teaching hospitals affiliated with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
“I realized that there was little to no discussion with the patient about what it means to have a critical or life-limiting illness,” McDonald said in a statement. “That led me to palliative care and being able to better communicate with patients. I talk with patients about the goals of their care and symptom management. I try to figure out why they have come to the ED and how it fits into their illness. Are they hoping to return home? Or do they want to be admitted? It’s a pivotal point where we can save people from being admitted.”
Another intention of the program is to provide more compassionate and cost-efficient care, the hospital indicated in the statement.
The program’s approach to critical care translates into fewer extended hospital stays for patients, greater personalized care and improved quality for those with conditions such as heart disease, cancer and other life-limiting illnesses such as dementia and Parkinson’s Disease, according to Curley.
“Patients with conditions that are manageable can return to the comfort and privacy of their own home where they will have the support of a palliative care or hospice team. Others are admitted for inpatient care that has been deemed necessary,” Curley stated.