Palliative care is still available through Heartlinks

Richland-based Heartlinks Hospice & Palliative Care is expanding to take on new Tri-City patients after Chaplaincy Health discontinued palliative care at the end of 2020.

It announced the addition of a new nurse practitioner, Christopher Monk, ARNP, to support the expansion.

Heartlinks is a nonprofit that emphasizes serving clients for both its hospice and palliative services in their homes. Chaplaincy ended its palliative program in December, citing unreliable funding.

Shelby Moore, executive director, said some patients feared the loss of services. Heartlinks serves between 50 and 75 patients, with capacity to accept more. It has increased its patient load by 35% since Chaplaincy discontinued its program.

Palliative care is distinct from hospice. Palliative care serves people who are ill, often gravely so, while hospice focuses exclusively on end-of-life services to patients with terminal prognoses.

Moore said Heartlinks focuses on clients whose disease progression that makes it hard for them to get to medical appointments. It brings doctors to homes to manage care.

Heartlinks advises patients who think palliative care would be helpful to discuss it with their primary care doctor. Patients remain under the care of their own physicians, while palliative care professionals can recommend ways to manage physical symptoms and address the “net steps” in disease progression.

Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance and veteran’s benefits reimburse some palliative care services and donations cover the balance.

It has served Benton and Yakima counties for more than 40 years. It launched palliative care services about 14 years ago.

Go to heartlinkshospice.org

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