The medical industry has become, in recent decades, in many quarters, a numbers game. Hospital groups are buying out doctors’ groups for big money. Insurers and pharmacies are disagreeing on fair compensation. Consultants count the number of support personnel per doctor and suggest cutbacks if that number is too high.
Hospice care agencies, like other medical providers, have also been affected by this numbers game. At Hope Hospice, however, we make attentive patient care our top priority. Being an independent, privately owned hospice, we don’t answer to a corporate home office in a far away state. We are the home office. If a patient needs something that is beyond the norm, we don’t have to wait for days to get the answers. We walk right into the boss’s office and to ask for approval.
Similarly, we are not part of a hospital group. We are not required to make cutbacks in service due to shortfalls elsewhere in a regional system. We are a St. Louis based, independent agency.
Yes, we are also attentive to our budgets. We don’t scrimp in any way, but we do strive to work efficiently and effectively. In 2012, the costs of many things are increasing. Gasoline, food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, basic supplies are all going up. But we continue to provide several visits each week to each patient. We maintain a full staff that is on call 24/7.
Hospices are accustomed to fluctuations in patient counts. We adhere to practices that make our services to patients and families just as complete when we are serving a larger number of patients.
To work with hospice patients requires a special sensitivity and a special compassion. In some areas of medical care, a staffer may be able to disguise his or her level of concern, but in the world of hospice, it’s hard to do the work if you don’t possess those special qualities. We have had employees who came from other medical areas who learned quickly that they were not cut out for hospice work. We value our medical staff and provide fair compensation to keep them on board.
At Hope Hospice of St. Louis, we are dedicated to providing the best possible patient care and to providing strong support for the patient’s family members and caregivers. At the same time, we are concerned about finances, because that is what will allow us to continue to do the work to which we are committed.