LifeLinks at 18 Months
In May 2015 The Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network began the LifeLinks program, having discovered in the course of our work that there is an enormous gap in services for terminally ill individuals. For this cohort of patients curative care is often no longer an option. They are not yet ready for hospice but they are in serious need of assistance in managing their pain/symptoms and finding comfort. Studies show that repeated visits to doctors and hospitalizations by patients with incurable illness tend to have negative impacts and increase morbidity rates. We searched throughout the community for home-based palliative care services to offer our patients and found that no organized system existed. The solution called for the creation of the LifeLinks, home-based palliative care for our Jewish community, in order to maintain patients with incurable illness, comfortably at home. By providing them the best possible care we ensure that no Jew is ever alone at the end of life. In developing the LifeLinks pilot project, we conferred with a plethora of doctors who serve the Jewish community and asked them to help us identify terminally ill patients who would benefit from home-based palliative services. We met with sixty-five groups of doctors/individual practitioners and presented our master plan of managing their pain and symptoms.
LifeLinks Average Daily Census
Dr. Jeffrey Forman joins JHCN Board of Directors
Dr. Jeffrey Forman has served as the volunteer medical director since the inception of LifeLinks. Over the last six months Dr. Forman’s role has expanded. He attends all bi-weekly meetings, advises on administrative and medical protocols and is actively involved in fundraising meetings with donors and foundations. Dr. Forman maintains relationships with our medical partners including doctors, hospital systems and hospices. On October 26, 2016 he was officially appointed to the JHCN Board of Directors.
Fundraising: Celebration of Life Events
To help underwrite the additional costs to JHCN associated with LifeLinks we initiated Celebration of Life events where we gather in the home of appreciative supporters who invite their friends to partner in our work. We are grateful to Sharon and Marvin Walkon, Linda Kovan, Dr. Anita and Dr. Ron Taylor, and Cindy and Barry Howard for the gracious hospitality in opening their homes. We also thank Gail Danto and Art Roffey and the Ravitz Foundation for offering challenge grants to further this effort. There are currently five additional Celebration of Life Events on the calendar for the first quarter of 2017. If you would like to open your home and invite your friends to one of these events, please contact Rabbi E.B. Freedman, Rabbi Joseph Krakoff or Bonnie Laker at 248-592-2687.
Palliative Care Partners
We established premiere partnerships with Hospice of Michigan, Seasons Medical Group and Residential Home Health. Through these relationships, we identified three doctors willing to make home visits as well as eight nurse practitioners and numerous home care specialists with an expertise in palliative care. We merged them with our rabbis, social workers, volunteers and the resources of the Jewish community to meet the needs of these patients in their own homes. The clinical services are paid for by Medicare with no out of pocket expense to the patient. The services of the rabbis, social workers, care coordinators and volunteer management are provided by JHCN also at no cost to the patient.
Seasons Medical Group
Seasons Medical Group, through their palliative care program, is providing nurse practitioner visits to patients at home and in facilities and has taken care of more than 100 of our LifeLinks patients thus far. Rabbi Yisrael Pinson, a member of the JHCN team, is the dedicated Rabbinic Liaison to all of these patients.
Hospice of Michigan
Hospice of Michigan, under the leadership of Bob Cahill, CEO; Patrick Miller, Executive Vice President & COO; and Dr. Michael Paletta, Chief Medical Director have provided strategic guidance and clinical training. They have enthusiastically volunteered the use of their ‘All Scripts’ patient data system and spent countless hours tailoring it to our specific needs. HOM, in their partnership with Arbor Hospice, has recently developed the Community Based Palliative Care program and will soon begin offering nurse practitioner services to LifeLinks.
Dr. Jeffrey Margolis & Michigan Healthcare Professionals (MHP)
Michigan Healthcare Professionals (MHP), a practice of more than 400 physicians is led by Dr. Jeffrey Margolis. He is a fervent proponent of LifeLinks and is referring an average of 3-4 patients per week. Dr. Margolis is currently organizing all of the MHP oncology physicians to utilize the services of LifeLinks.
Henry Ford Health System – West Bloomfield Hospital partnership
The Henry Ford System, under the leadership of Medical Director Dr. Betty Chu, has made a commitment that every terminally ill Jewish patient in their system will be referred to LifeLinks. We have had two meetings with their team to date. In the first meeting, we presented to nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers and case mangers and in the second meeting we spoke with representatives of each department in the hospital. We are currently establishing protocols to assure that each HFWBH patient is enrolled in LifeLinks before they are discharged. We have three shared goals: (a) preventing unnecessary readmissions to the hospital; (b) adding a Jewish component to patient care; and (c) ensuring that no Jew is ever alone.