The Institute for Palliative Medicine in San Diego will operate California’s first statewide consultative service for palliative care resources
July 8, 2009 (San Diego) – Communities in California lacking palliative medicine resources will now receive top quality palliative care consultative and educational support through a new hotline housed and operated by The Institute for Palliative Medicine. The pilot launch took place in San Diego on Monday, July 6, 2009. Once the pilot phase is completed, the hotline will roll out statewide in September.
The hotline, formally called the “California Palliative Care Consultation Center Hotline,” is better known as PAL- MED CONNECT and currently serves as a pilot program for a regional telephone consultative service. The hotline number is (toll free) 1-877-PAL-MED4. There is also a companion web site at www.palmedconnect.org. The Institute for Palliative Medicine received a $1,203,547 grant from UnitedHealth Group to create PAL-MED CONNECT in an effort to help develop, implement and evaluate palliative care consultative services by phone and internet.
“The need for access to consultative resources in palliative medicine is great,” noted Dr. Charles von Gunten, Provost of The Institute for Palliative Medicine. “Four out of ten deaths in the United States occur while on hospice care. Yet there are only 273 board-certified palliative care physicians in California and many smaller communities and rural areas don’t have any to serve their residents. As our population ages, the need will only become greater for palliative care. We want this hotline to become the lifeline that brings Californians relief from suffering.”
“Thanks to the grant from UnitedHealth Group, we can share everything we’ve learned from our research and our clinical practice at The Institute by phone and online with physicians, nurse practitioners, and clinical pharmacists caring for seriously ill patients,” said Helen McNeal, Executive Director of The Institute for Palliative Medicine. “We expect this resource to make a significant difference in the lives of many patients and their families by connecting their healthcare professionals with specialized information, advice, and resources.”
Located on the campus of San Diego Hospice since its founding as the Center for Palliative Studies in 1989, The Institute for Palliative Medicine has achieved international recognition for its innovative education programs, patient/family-centered research and evidence-based advocacy. San Diego Hospice is one of the largest hospice and palliative care programs in the United States.
Palliative care is the prevention and relief of suffering by a specialized interdisciplinary health care team that focuses on managing symptoms, relieving pain, and improving quality of life, whatever the diagnosis. The Institute for Palliative Medicine helped pioneer the palliative medicine subspecialty approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties in 2006.
“UnitedHealth Group and PacifiCare are committed to investing in a healthier California,” said Steve Nelson, CEO, Western Region of UnitedHealthcare. “We do this by offering products and services that address access to quality health care for all Californians, and also through grants to diverse community health organizations statewide that will help improve the health care delivery system for everyone, including underserved populations.”
The Institute for Palliative Medicine is internationally recognized for excellence in palliative care education and research. Located at San Diego Hospice, the Institute is dedicated to relief of suffering and focuses on discovering, demonstrating and disseminating strategies for palliative care. Physicians and healthcare professionals from around the globe come to The Institute for Palliative Medicine to study. Home to the country’s largest palliative medicine physician fellowship program, the Institute also provides education to more than 1700 health care students and professionals each year.
UnitedHealth Group (www.unitedhealthgroup.com) is a diversified health and well-being company headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., UnitedHealth Group includes UnitedHealthcare, Ovations, AmeriChoice, OptumHealth, Ingenix, and Prescription Solutions.
For more information, visit online at www.sdhospice.org