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Hospice Care Bedside at Saint Peter's

April 1, 2012 Saint Peter's Healthcare System Community Calendar Featured Article.

At a time of serious illness, when the decision is made that available treatments are not beneficial, hospice provides physical and emotional care for the patient and family. End-oflife care is focused on the patient’s quality of life during this time. At Saint Peter’s University Hospital, hospice care is provided for patients at bedside in partnership with Hospice of New Jersey. The Bloomfieldbased organization is one of the oldest and largest providers of hospice services in the United States. Patients and their families are cared for by a nurse trained in hospice care and Hospice of New Jersey provides a bedside nursing assistant.

Elizabeth Wykpisz

Elizabeth Wykpisz

Hospice care is designed to be palliative – meaning that its primary focus is to alleviate pain and relieve symptoms, says Elizabeth Wykpisz, RN, MSN, MBA, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. Hospice care is available to patients who may require a high level of skilled medical assistance or extensive adjustment to medications for symptom management, and who have persistent symptoms that cannot be managed in another setting, she adds.

“This program ties into our mission to continue to provide quality care for patients at the end of life,” she says. “This partnership allows both organizations to share expertise and support our patients and their loved ones.”

Hospice care is available as an extension of critical care at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. The hospital’s critical care team of nurses recently earned a third Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence, a record achieved by only 10 critical care units in the country. Presented by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, the award recognizes the nation’s top critical care units among the more than 6,000 operating in the country.

Patients 18 years or older can be admitted to the Saint Peter’s hospice program from an inpatient unit in the hospital. Here, as with all other discharge planning, a social worker is involved. The social worker talks to the patient and/or family and primary care physician about the possibility of discharge from the hospital and admission to the inpatient hospice program.

Saint Peter’s staff reaches out to the on-site hospice nurse who serves as the liaison for referrals to the inpatient hospice program. If it’s after hours, there is an on-call nurse available. Once a physician provides discharge orders from Saint Peter’s, the patient becomes a patient of Hospice of New Jersey while staying at Saint Peter’s.

Patients receive pain management and symptom relief; pharmacy, medical and equipment services; spiritual and emotional support; leading-edge technology for clinical care; and access to staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Another extension of the program is the support services available. Patients can be counseled by a hospice social worker. Spiritual support, in conjunction with local clergy, as requested, also is provided.

Specially trained volunteers also are part of the hospice team. These carefully selected volunteers have first-hand experience with a family member or close friend who requires special care and support. Volunteers participate in an extensive training program and attend regular meetings after training. Volunteers help to run errands, stay with patients so caregivers can run errands or take a break, and provide transportation.

List of services available through hospice care:

  • Ongoing assessment of the patient’s condition
  • Primary focus of providing and maintaining the patient’s quality of life
  • Pain management and symptom relief
  • Pharmacy, medical and equipment services
  • A social worker provides emotional support and counseling, assistance with financial concerns, and advance directives
  • Spiritual support
  • Emotional support for patient and significant others
  • • Patient and family education which can include end-of-life issues
  • Bereavement follow-up for the family members and caregivers
  • 24-hour-a-day on-call support

For more information about hospice care at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, please call the Care Coordination Department at 732-745-8522.