Medical professionals can tell you that the treatment goals for seniors and those needing symptom relief can be much different from the treatment goals of other populations. Accordingly, many in our medical staff have noticed the Treasure Valley’s lack of a coordinated outpatient program in geriatrics and symptom relief for those with chronic illnesses, otherwise known as palliative care medicine. With these observations, we decided to take action for the health of seniors and those who need palliative care in our communities.
The Saint Alphonsus Center for Healthy Aging, scheduled to launch early next summer, will be a consultative, outpatient-focused geriatrics and palliative care program that partners with existing agencies and providers of senior and palliative care in the Treasure Valley. SACHA does not intend to interrupt existing physician-patient relationships but to provide consultative support of those relationships. Additionally, SACHA will use our extensive research and coordination to establish relationships with many existing community programs that support seniors and those in need of palliative care.
To start, SACHA will consist of two geriatricians, two palliative care physicians and four advanced-practice providers such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Although based at the Saint Alphonsus campus in Boise, this team will travel to Saint Alphonsus clinics throughout Ada County to bring care closer to the senior and palliative care populations that often have difficulty with transportation. Additionally, Saint Alphonsus’ well-developed telemedicine capabilities will bring SACHA to surrounding areas, including the rural areas of eastern Oregon. SACHA will include a home-visit program where advanced practice providers will deliver geriatric and palliative care in select patients’ homes in collaboration with those patients’ primary care providers.
SACHA will also collaborate with social workers and existing hospice organizations to ensure a smooth transition, should the need arise. SACHA’s future also brings involvement in public policy advocacy, a clinic designed for geriatrics and palliative care needs, professional education, and community-based advanced care planning.
As Saint Alphonsus develops its population health capabilities, we believe that the needs of our seniors and those with palliative care needs are unique and deserving of additional support — and we look forward to developing that support for our communities in 2016.