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Aetna grant to assist Orange Regional’s Palliative Care Program

April 9, 2007

Orange Regional Medical Center has received a $31,200 grant from Aetna to help establish a Palliative Care Program.

The Palliative Care Program, expected to begin this spring, will provide family-centered care to patients with progressive, chronic and life-limiting illnesses. The grant will pay for the training of Maggie Conroy, RN and Medical Director, Dr. Mary Ellen King. The grant will also help offset the cost of informational outreach and educational materials for patients and families, and the establishment of a Palliative Care Family Room and Resource Library.

Palliative care differs from Hospice care. Unlike hospice, palliative care is intended for patients with prolonged serious health conditions or life-limiting illnesses, not just those patients with imminently terminal conditions. The Palliative Care Program at Orange Regional will help establish specific standards of care for these patients. Drawing from the nationally-recognized Palliative Care Clinical Standards, the program will assist patients with illnesses, including cardiopulmonary disease, cancer, stroke, and renal failure, among others.

“Orange Regional Medical Center is doing important work in developing a model of culturally sensitive care to assist patients, along with their families and caregivers, as they attempt to maintain courage and dignity in the face of significant illness,” said Brad Morse, Aetna’s vice president of sales and service. “We need to meet the needs of patients and caregivers for pain and symptom management, emotional and spiritual support, and help in achieving a sense of control. Toward that end, Aetna has pioneered a comprehensive program of broadened coverage for hospice and palliative services, including curative care while in hospice, and coverage for respite care.”

Orange Regional’s Palliative Care Program is the result of a continued collaborative relationship between Orange Regional Medical Center and Hospice of Orange & Sullivan Counties. Due to the project’s collaborative approach, Hospice of Orange & Sullivan has agreed to provide up to $50,000 in initial program costs. Orange Regional Medical Center has also invested $50,000.

Hospice of Orange & Sullivan expects to play an actively supportive role throughout the implementation and operation of Orange Regional’s Palliative Care Program. Hospice will help Orange Regional enhance the knowledge, skills and abilities of hospital staff and physicians treating patients facing end-of-life issues. As a key collaborator in the program, Hospice will also serve as a critical part of the network of community and home-based service providers, helping to ensure an effective transition for the patient from the hospital back to their home. Because of its broad range of services, Hospice will also assist the hospital in linking caregivers with necessary respite and support services. As part of the continuity of care for patients whose disease process is more advanced, Hospice will ensure that patients no longer suitable for palliative care will be appropriately directed to hospice care.

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 35.9 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life, long-term care and disability plans, and medical management capabilities. Aetna customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans and government-sponsored plans. www.aetna.com

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