New Jersey Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett will participate in the dedication of The Samaritan Center at Voorhees, a new hospice center, to mark November as National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.
“End of life is a difficult time for both patients and families — New Jersey’s hospice programs provide compassionate, supportive care to ease the suffering of those that are ill and offer comfort to families,” said Commissioner Bennett. “National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is a reminder to plan ahead for this challenging time by having discussions with loved ones about wishes for end-of-life care.”
Commissioner Bennett will attend the dedication of The Samaritan Center on Nov. 30 at 11:30 a.m., which will be held at 265 Route 73 South, Voorhees.
Hospice programs provide palliative services to terminally ill patients in the home or at a health care facility, including medical, nursing, social work, volunteer and counseling services. Hospices provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families when a cure is not possible. Palliative care makes these services available earlier in the course of an illness.
The New Jersey Department of Health licenses more than 70 hospice providers in the state. The Department’s website has a listing of licensed hospice programs in New Jersey.
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The Department also has a comprehensive website dedicated to Palliative and End of Life Care at www.nj.gov/health/advancedirective. It includes advance directive forms, educational materials, toolkits for completing an advance directive and links to web sites with additional information on hospice and palliative care. Advance Directives are an important tool to document preferences for care when an individual can no longer communicate.
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The New Jersey Department of Health and New Jersey Hospital Association have developed POLST – Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment – a statewide program to empower individuals to make decisions regarding their medical care at the end of life. New Jersey’s POLST law, signed by Governor Chris Christie in 2011, features a form designed to be completed jointly by an individual and a physician or advance practice nurse, detailing the individual’s goals of care and medical preferences. It may be used to complement an Advanced Directive. For more information and to download the form, visit http://nj.gov/health/advancedirective/polst.shtml.
The Department also houses the New Jersey Advisory Council on End of Life Care, which is developing recommendations over the next year that will result in a report that will inform policymakers and educate the public on end of life care issues.
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National Hospice and Palliative Care Month is sponsored by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) a nonprofit organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. The organization is committed to improving end-of-life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for patients with terminal illnesses in America and their loved ones. This year, NHPCO is promoting the Know Your Options campaign to educate both individuals and families about healthcare choices when dealing with a life-limiting illness.