Hospice of Hilo changes its name

Hospice of Hilo changed its name to Hawaii Care Choices after 35 years on Hawaii Island.

“Are we the same people? We are,” said Lisa Kwee, Hawaii Care Choices development and education coordinator. “It’s just an organizational name change.”

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The name was changed earlier this month to reflect an expansion of services.

They include bereavement care; palliative care for people with serious illness; the Pohai Malama Care Center, a 12-bed inpatient facility in Hilo for hospice patients; and home-based hospice care.

Because service options have broadened, it no longer made sense for the name to focus solely on hospice care, Kwee said.

Hawaii Care Choices offers help long before the end-of-life care of hospice.

Palliative care, for example, can last months to years. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness while decreasing the need for hospitalization — a significant cost savings for health insurance companies and a big relief for the patient and loved ones.

“People are coming to us now, seeking this type of care,” Kwee said.

Hawaii Care Choices received $250,000 in legislative funding during the 2017 session.

The money is being used to invest in telemedicine technology to further expand services, perhaps eventually to serve individuals with chronic health conditions in addition to individuals with serious or terminal illness.

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“Come in right when you get diagnosed with a serious illness so we can decide what path you want to take,” Kwee said.

Email Jeff Hansel at jhansel@hawaiitribune-herald.com.