Palliative Care

Hospice of North Idaho’s Community Palliative Care Program

Hospice of North Idaho’s Community Palliative Care Program provides comfort care to any person with a limited prognosis and has a need for supportive care. The main purpose of the program is to improve the patient's quality of life at the end of life. The program will serve any person with an advanced illness with a limited prognosis who is not receiving hospice care. Patients in this program may still be receiving curative treatment.

How will the Community Palliative Care Program benefit me and my Family?

The Community Palliative Care Program helps patients and those who care for them by:

  •  Counseling patients and families when making medical decisions becomes difficult
  • Working with a patient’s primary care physician to reduce or control pain and debilitating symptoms
  • Coordination of support services as goals and needs change

Services to be provided

Professional assistance with addressing the multidimensional needs of a patient and family including the following:

  • Hospice of North Idaho nurse practitioner or physician will provide disease education and assist with the identification of priorities/goals and advance care planning. In addition, our clinicians will be available to a patient’s primary care physician to provide assistance with complex pain and symptom management
  • Hospice of North Idaho medical social worker will  be available to assess the patient and family’s psycho-social needs. The social worker will be available to assist with the coordination of community support services when needed
  • Hospice of North Idaho will provide  follow-up to help reduce the number of crisis situations that may arise as a patient’s terminal illness progresses

For more Information

You may call Hospice of North Idaho at (208) 772-7994 for more information or contact your primary care physician. Outpatient consultations can take place almost anywhere including long-term care facilities or your home.

Questions and Answers

Does outpatient palliative care replace the services of the attending physician?
No. Palliative medicine complements the attending physician’s care when comfort, counseling and quality of life become increasingly important and more challenging to coordinate.

Who pays for palliative care services?
Outpatient palliative care consults are covered by Medicare and most private insurance. A sliding fee schedule will be used for patients without insurance

Why is there a need for outpatient palliative care services? 
There are significant barriers to the utilization of palliative care via hospice. Barriers include the following:

  • The Hospice Medicare benefit encourages the discontinuation of disease modifying therapies without exception
  • An increase in the number of treatment options available that can make it more difficult to make prognosis of a person having a life expectancy of 6 months or less
  • There is a difficulty in aligning goals for care when the patient desires to include multiple family members in the decision making process
  • Patients are reluctant to accept hospice as they may need to let go of their optimistic goals and expectations of disease modifying treatments

Outpatient palliative care’s less stringent admission criteria has been shown to be more widely accepted by patient and family members.

Does outpatient palliative care replace Hospice care?
No. The program’s palliative care services will not be as comprehensive as Hospice of North Idaho’s hospice program. Outpatient palliative care services are used earlier in the disease process when needs are less intense and/or when a patient has high expectations about prognosis and the benefit of disease modifying therapies. Hospice care is offered as an option when appropriate.