Palliative Care Center closes doors

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After 17 months in operation, Hospice of Hilo’s Hawaii Palliative Care Center has closed its doors and begun restructuring after having financial trouble.

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After 17 months in operation, Hospice of Hilo’s Hawaii Palliative Care Center has closed its doors and begun restructuring after having financial trouble.

The center opened in February 2014, offering care for patients suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Palliative care focuses on helping clients improve their quality of life and managing their pain, as well as providing support on a psychological and spiritual level.

Services at the Palliative Care Center, which is located within the Hospice of Hilo Pohai Malama Care Center on Kapiolani Street, were suspended July 10, according to Director of Operations and Compliance Shirley Dellinger.

In a statement emailed to the Tribune-Herald in response to questions, Hospice of Hilo Medical Director Lynda Dolan explained the Palliative Care Center had experienced financial difficulty since launching last year.

“The Board of Directors and staff of Hospice of Hilo are fully committed to the success of the Hawaii Palliative Care Center (HPCC), which is a different program from our core hospice care,” she wrote. “Within the past two years, we have committed substantial resources and energy to develop the palliative care program. Tremendous efforts were made to network with local health care providers, educate the community and develop partnerships with the hospital to reach patients.

“During the past few months, in evaluating the viability of the program, our organization has determined that the current HPCC service model is simply not sustainable. Therefore, the palliative care program has begun a restructuring process in order to better meet the needs of our region’s residents, health care providers and facilities.”

Dolan said Hospice of Hilo does not intend to permanently close the Palliative Care Center, “nor will these changes impact Hospice of Hilo’s core home care and inpatient hospice services, which will continue uninterrupted.”

Two members of the center’s three-person team are being “temporarily redirected to hospice core services and one is seeking other opportunities elsewhere,” she wrote. “We envision restarting the newly redesigned program in 2016.”

The center’s team includes Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Joanne Potts, Care Coordinator Julie Kai and Palliative Care Physician Dr. Frances Spector.

When the facility opened, Hospice of Hilo CEO Brenda Ho said the Palliative Care Center was an important addition to the Big Island’s health care network.

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“Health care is complicated and there are many people unnecessarily suffering because they are not receiving the kind of comfort care, pain management and navigational support they need,” she said. “We hope to offer an extra layer of support that will help patients and families find peace in the chaos of their serious illness.”

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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