Bluewater Health Improving Access to Palliative Care for Patients

Tuesday, October 18, 2022 - 2:36pm

SARNIA & PETROLIA – October 18, 2022 – Bluewater Health is participating in a quality improvement initiative to more accurately identify patients who may be in their final year of life who could benefit from early support of the palliative care team.

Hospital One-Year Mortality Risk (HOMR) is a validated tool that uses data routinely collected by hospitals to calculate each patient’s risk of dying within a year of their admission to hospital. HOMR is calculated in real time in the hospital’s electronic health record system, and will flag patients with an elevated risk or mortality in the coming year. The goal of the assessment is to determine if the patient has unmet palliative care needs and if the patient has interest in further discussion with the palliative care team regarding these needs.

“Research shows that patients who receive early intervention by the palliative care team live longer, better quality lives,” says Dr. Allison Crombeen, Palliative Care Physician. “There is sometimes a stigma for patients and families that palliative care is synonymous with end of life. However, early palliative care benefits both physical and mental health and can even extend life. Ideally, the palliative care team should be involved from the diagnosis of a life limiting condition.”

Palliative care is a specialized medical care that focuses on providing patients relief from pain and other symptoms of a serious illness, no matter the diagnosis or stage of disease. A positive HOMR score triggers a conversation with Bluewater Health’s palliative consultant nurse at the patient’s bedside to discuss topics such as advanced care planning and symptom management.

“This approach is more accurate and reliable than any provider-dependent approach could hope to be. It will help us remove any roadblocks to getting patients’ the early access to palliative care that they need,” said Crombeen.

If the patient has unmet palliative care needs and is agreeable to a consult, they will be referred to a palliative care physician. Outcomes from the consult may include home care referral, documentation of goals of care, pain and symptom management, and follow up with palliative care services in the community.

Sarnia-Lambton’s palliative care team bridges the care continuum from hospital to the community, with dedicated physicians caring for patients in the hospital, hospice and at home.

Bluewater Health is participating in the HOMR initiative as part of a palliative care research project lead by principal investigators at The Ottawa Hospital and Humber River Hospital.

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Bluewater Health’s programs and services are distributed across two locations, Bluewater Health in Sarnia and Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital of Bluewater Health in Petrolia. 

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