As I look forward to a productive 2016, I can’t help but reflect on the amazing year that just passed. It was a year of growth and change, of innovation and exploration. It was the year we created Gilchrist Services – and officially expanded our mission to include patients who are not yet terminally ill but desperately need coordinated, comprehensive and compassionate care as they journey through serious and chronic illness. While Gilchrist Hospice Care remains the core of our national award winning program, we know that adding new services earlier in the disease process can only benefit our patients and their families.
Perhaps one of Gilchrist Services’ most vital initiatives for the New Year is the expansion of one of the programs I alluded to above – Support Our Elders. Last year, we piloted this important program, which offers primary care from a nurse practitioner in the homes of patients who have difficulty traveling. These are patients who can no longer physically maneuver through the health care system; as a result they often do not get the care they need when they need it. Since the program’s launch, we’ve enrolled more than 100 patients in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. With the help of three funding and coordination partners, The Horizon Foundation, Howard County General Hospital and Lorien Health Systems, we will begin offering the program to Howard County patients in 2016.
I can’t emphasize enough how important Support Our Elders is for patients with chronic and advanced illnesses. Patients with limited mobility have long been forgotten by healthcare. By bringing care to them, we are restoring dignity, respect and personal decision-making and control to their health care journeys. By offering care in their own homes, we are viewing, first hand, the challenges they face on a daily basis.
In 2016, we will also launch Gilchrist Care Choices, part of a new initiative of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This new program will allow participants to continue to receive advanced treatments like chemotherapy, infusions and ventilator support while also accessing the valuable care of the hospice team. Much like Support Our Elders, Gilchrist Care Choices is designed to capture a population historically underserved by hospice. These are patients who are terminally ill but unwilling to give up the emotional safety net that curative care offers. For these patients, the idea of hospice is unwelcome and frightening; we expect that Gilchrist Care Choices will help soften the transition by showing patients that they can still live well while on hospice.
these two new initiatives – as well as our continued efforts to ensure that our care is sensitive to and accessible to diverse populations – are about removing those barriers, both perceived and real, that might hinder patients and their families as they seek out the best possible care for them and their loved ones.
In 2016, like 2015 before, we vow to grow and expand, to find gaps in care and fill them, and to ensure that each and every patient and family is treated with the sensitivity, warmth and respect they so richly deserve.
On behalf of the staff, volunteers, patients and families of Gilchrist Services,
I want to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year!