The PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center is resuming its outpatient palliative care program after shutting it down in May.
The Washington state-based hospital health system ended the program due to a lack of sufficient reimbursement. The decision sparked outcries in some communities, including donors who in 2018 contributed a combined $2 million to launch the program, the Cascadia Daily News reported.
In a statement emailed to that newspaper, PeaceHealth leaders indicated that the renewed program would be primarily clinic-based, combined with a small program that will deliver care in the home. The health system conducted a review of the program to seek ways of better sustaining the program.
“This review revealed several opportunities for improvement, and a proposed model emerged through collaboration between PeaceHealth Medical Group, the local palliative care team, and the [health system’s charitable foundation],” the statement indicated. “Crucially, this new model has been designed with sustainability in mind and will serve more patients more efficiently, ensuring accessibility to both cancer and non-cancer referrals.”
The new program will operate out of the hospital’s cancer center, where 65% of its palliative care referrals originated, according to PeaceHealth. Palliative care specialist Dr. Angie Lee will oversee the program, the statement said.
The statement contained an apology from PeaceHealth to the community for ending its prior program. The new program is slated to launch in early 2024, pending staff recruitment.
“PeaceHealth’s decision around the previous OPPC program was made with urgency and without fully consulting PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation Board members and other key stakeholders instrumental in establishing the original program in 2018,” PeaceHealth leaders wrote in the statement. “This was a regrettable oversight, and PeaceHealth apologizes for the angst this caused.”