By Gwen Cooper
In response to the need for more accessible palliative care education and training in the community, Hosparus Health has partnered with the University of New Mexico to bring Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) to communities across Kentucky and Indiana.
Called “Palliative Care Connect,” this professional educational series offers a unique opportunity for healthcare providers to learn about palliative care principles and share patient cases that highlight the challenges they face when treating medically complex patients.
Palliative Care Connect is one of the first opportunities offered in Kentucky using the Project ECHO model, a tele-mentoring program developed by the University of New Mexico that combines brief, expert presentations with interactive and practical case presentations from participants using videoconferencing technology that participants can access free from anywhere using their smart phone or laptop. It is the first ECHO clinic on palliative care in the state of Kentucky.
ECHO Offers New Model
Unlike traditional classroom education, ECHO offers a collaborative, discussion-based learning environment that includes real-time problem solving for patient cases presented during the sessions. Palliative Care Connect is administered by Hosparus Health senior hospice and palliative medicine physician Lori Earnshaw, MD, who serves as program director, and medical practice manager Bert Lindvall, who is project coordinator.
There is no cost to participate in Palliative Care Connect, and participants are eligible for free AMA PRA Category 1 continuing education credits for physicians, nurses, social workers and other healthcare professionals.
While the Project ECHO model does not provide direct care to patients, it increases access to specialty treatment in rural and underserved areas by providing front-line clinicians with knowledge and ongoing support to manage patients with complex conditions.
Palliative Care Connect is geared toward clinical professionals at hospitals, nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, provider group practices, personal care facilities and assisted living facilities throughout Kentucky and Indiana. The sessions, called “teleECHO™ clinics,” are designed to build skills in delivering palliative care and include the following topics:
- Defining the continuum of care for people with serious illness.
- Introducing patients to palliative care.
- Techniques for facilitating difficult discussions about serious illness and dying.
- Palliative approaches to pain management.
- Ethical and legal challenges in palliative care.
- Advance care planning.
- Providing whole-person care: spiritual, emotional, and social support for people with serious illness.
- Self-care and compassion fatigue: nurturing wellness in your clinical practice.
“We named our first ECHO ‘Palliative Care Connect’ because we hope to connect with other providers and build a community of learning, support and advocacy for palliative care,” said Earnshaw. “We have already enjoyed the relationships we are creating with our engaged and dedicated partners, the Loretto Motherhouse and Hardin Memorial Hospital. We hope to expand our community so that we can reach more providers and patients in need of an educational forum that will increase their knowledge and confidence in providing palliative care.”
“We are very happy to be participating in Project Echo,” said LeAnn Detherage, supportive services director at Loretto Motherhouse. “Working in a long-term care setting, we are continuously looking for ways to improve the quality of life for our residents. Project Echo offers valuable training, using a holistic approach, in caring for people with serious illness and supporting those who care for them.”
Clinics began Sept. 11, and will be held every other week from now until Feb. 26, 2019. Because the classes are virtual, space is still available. For more information or to enroll, contact Bert Lindvall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Gwen Cooper is senior vice president and chief external affairs officer at Hosparus Health.