The Personal Caring Initiative: A Transformative Approach to Palliative Care in a Regional Medical Center

In a recent blog post I wrote about the Mayo Transform conference awarding The Personal Caring Initiative with an iSpot award to showcase our work in providing personalized care to seriously ill people and their loved ones. This initiative includes the development of a palliative care service line, however we have taken several deliberate steps to engage the community and region of our regional medical center. This blog post shares the premise and the strategies that have served to elevate The Personal Caring Initiative to a transformative approach to caring for seriously ill people in our communities. We have attempted to change care and culture.

Serious Illness is Changing
The people we are privileged to care for through the services of Mayo Clinic Health System are living with multiple serious illnesses within the communities we serve. Several studies have shown the current health care system is fractionated and inadequate to address the needs of persons and families dealing with serious life threatening illness. Palliative Medicine is the only board certified specialty whose sole aim is to as a team provide the care that seriously ill persons tell us they want, namely, personalized care.

The Future is Upon Us
In times of declining reimbursement, demands of quality care, and more ill people, we must partner with our community resources to transform the care of seriously ill people of our communities to achieve increased quality of life, provide low burden excellent care while at the same time being more efficient. Unlike any other medical teams caring for people with serious illness, palliative care, has the skill, role and time to care for people with serious illness and people who may be dying. In fact, people like you and me with lung cancer live better and longer when receiving palliative care in addition to oncology care from the time of diagnosis as compared to similar people only receiving oncology care. As a health system, how do we insure the availability of dedicated palliative care services and enrichment of palliative care skills of our health care professionals? How do we then transform our faith leaders, our attorneys, our medical colleagues and our educators in service of people and families in our community living with a serious illness?

The Road to Transformation
Committed to the care of our most frail and seriously ill patients and their families, the southwestern region of MCHS, has strategically introduced a paradigm shift in caring for seriously ill people and their families. We have
1. initiated a fully staffed and professionally trained palliative care team serving the region clinically, educationally, and scholarly.
2. established a regionally represented palliative care community consortium with key stakeholders from the communities within our communities; Business, Education, Faith, Long Term Care, Pharmacy, Volunteers, and Elder Care.
3. created a position of a palliative care director of community engagement to lead the consortium and build relationships with key stake holders region wide.
4. partnered Palliative Care and Development for Philanthropic support.
5. initiated an Advance Care Planning Online Resource Center launching with public forum viewings of the documentary Consider the Conversation
6. developed the Mayo Clinic Health System Palliative Care Specialty Council with guidance from national mentors.

October marks the second anniversary of The Personal Caring Initiative and we are delighted with the changes we are experiencing in our health system. The immediate future entails increasing clinical staffing to accommodate patient demand and additional community and region wide initiatives to improve the care of seriously ill people.

Cory Ingram, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Family and Palliative Medicine
Mayo Clinic, College of Medicine

Medical Director – Palliative Care
Chair of the Palliative Medicine Specialty Council
Mayo Clinic Health System

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