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Medical Center of Central Georgia Receives National Recognition for Palliative Care

Medical Center of Central Georgia Receives National Recognition for Palliative Care

VHA Recognizes MCCG as One of Top Palliative Care Facilities in U.S. 

MACON, GA (Wednesday, August 28, 2013) - The Medical Center of Central Georgia (MCCG) has been selected as a “Leading Performer in Palliative Care” by national healthcare network VHA, Inc. As a Leading Performer, MCCG will play an integral role in the development of palliative care programs throughout the U.S. while improving patient care and lowering healthcare costs.

MCCG's palliative care program addresses a patient's physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs and facilitates patient autonomy, access to information and choice. A team of VHA experts recently visited MCCG to study and document the hospital's processes of palliative care. MCCG collaborated with VHA's team to develop a Leading Practice Blueprint® that maps out each step in MCCG's process, as well as the cultural factors and social patterns that influence performance. The blueprint will ensure that MCCG's knowledge in palliative care will be successfully transferred to other hospitals for implementation.

“VHA's blueprint approach is unique in our industry. It focuses on conveying complex information in a simple, unique way. The Medical Center of Central Georgia participated in a process that will play a role in shaping leading practices for other hospitals nationwide,” said Remar Thorsness, Senior Director of Knowledge and Blueprint Practice for VHA, Inc.

VHA recognized MCCG for its adherence to industry-standard criteria, as well as the hospital's novel approach to patient care. MCCG has taken a different approach to palliative care by expanding the role counselors play in patient care. The approach is unique because it has a strong counseling base in providing the palliative service, rather than major reliance on advance practice nurses or palliative physicians. MCCG employs master's prepared counselors who spend the hours needed to assist families in making difficult end-of-life decisions. Using a family systems therapy approach, counselors have developed the Transitions and Palliative Care Therapy Model, which has proved to be a successful means of providing palliative services.

“This model is a true bio-psycho-social approach to caring for the patients and their families. Our clinical staff and counselors are dedicated to ensuring our patients receive the highest quality of care, and it's gratifying to know that other hospitals will be encouraged to duplicate our processes,” said Carol Babcock, MFT, Manager at MCCG's Center for Palliative Care.

MCCG was the first Certified Palliative Care Center in the Southeast to receive Advanced Palliative Care Certification from The Joint Commission, and The Children's Hospital at MCCG is one of four children's hospitals in the nation to receive the certification. MCCG earned the certification by demonstrating compliance with national standards for healthcare quality and safety in palliative care.

“The growth of The Medical Center's program over the past seven years is staggering, with outcomes far exceeding the predicted volume. The Transitions and Palliative Care Therapy Model has become an accepted standard of practice at The Medical Center and continues to be a successful means of managing the more complex cases. We are pleased that other hospitals, and their patients, will benefit from the work that we have done here,” said Dr. Richard Ackermann, Director of MCCG's Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship.

According to Steve Miff, PhD, Senior Vice President of VHA IMPERATIV™, MCCG's willingness to share its palliative care model will improve healthcare and health costs for other hospitals.

“The sharing of leading practices is one of the keys to improving healthcare across the nation.  As a top performer, MCCG's willingness to share their knowledge and processes is helping other hospitals move along the path to higher levels of patient experience, outcomes and lower cost of care. This type of knowledge transfer gives member hospitals an advantage in adopting the kind of quality and cost improvements that are now required in the rapidly changing healthcare environment,” said Miff. 

VHA's Leading Practice Blueprint library can be accessed through VHA IMPERATIV, which merges analytics about the hospital's performance with the leading practices recommended for improvement. Advisory services and collaboration opportunities help to accelerate implementation of the leading practices to improve and sustain their clinical, operational and financial performance.