Reach out to the community

Talk to groups whenever possible

Successful partnerships in health care occur when both organizations have the same high standards of care and philosophy. It is also important to stay in touch with your community and understand what information they want and need to make good decisions about care, points out Flint Besecker, chief executive officer of the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care in Cheektowaga, NY.

To make sure the hospice and its efforts to work in a wide variety of settings stays top-of-mind for the local community, his organization uses a variety of formal and informal methods to stay in touch with local leaders and community members.

"We do schedule formal educational sessions that are open to the community to discuss different topics related to end of life," explains Besecker. "Speakers include social workers, physicians, attorneys, and other staff members."

Although the hospice staff designs the schedule for the formal educational sessions, there are many other speaking opportunities at churches, local clubs, or neighborhood groups, Besecker points out. "We encourage all of our employees to let us know if a group uses speakers at meetings," he says. By offering to talk to people at their group meetings, the hospice staff can reach a wide range of people, he adds.

In addition to staying in touch with the local community, Cathy Hamel, vice president of post acute care services for the Greater Baltimore Medical Canter and executive director of Gilchrist Hospice in Hunt Valley, MD, also is looking at a way to expand the hospice's ability to attract clinical personnel. "We are fortunate that we have very little turnover throughout our hospice, but as we expand our services, we are seeing that there is a shortage of palliative care nurse practitioners," she explains. One strategy she is evaluating for the future is the creation of a training program for palliative care nurse practitioners. "Not only would we be able to grow our own nurse practitioner staff, but we would offer a program that can increase the number of nurse practitioners certified for palliative care."