CJE SeniorLife and NorthShore University HealthSystem Launch Jewish Hospice Program

by Bill Casper, Vice President of Residential Services

In today’s healthcare environment there is growing emphasis on the importance of improving care coordination throughout the entire healthcare continuum. This is especially critical as patients are transitioning more quickly from one care setting to another, paving the way for a new era of collaboration between physicians, hospitals and other organizations providing short-term rehab and long-term residential care.

In the past few years, CJE has entered into collaborative relationships with NorthShore University HealthSystem for short-term medical and rehabilitation services, cardiac care and dialysis that have yielded improved outcomes for patients and reduced the need for re-hospitalization. In addition, both organizations have intensified their focus on supporting patient-centered care with special attention to improving end-of-life care.

CJE SeniorLife is pleased to announce that it has recently entered into an affiliation agreement with NorthShore University HealthSystem (NSUHS) to develop a Jewish Hospice Program within NorthShore Hospice Care. Although both NorthShore and CJE provide healthcare services regardless of patients’ religious beliefs, this agreement will provide sensitive, compassionate palliative and hospice care that is consistent with Jewish values and traditions.

Dr. Noel DeBacker, Medical Director at CJE’s Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation, and Dr. Michael Marschke, NorthShore’s Director of Palliative Care and Hospice, spearheaded this collaborative effort with their respective administrative teams.

“By bringing together certain aspects and strengths of both CJE and NorthShore Hospice Care to expand access and improve patient care, our goal is to advance our shared vision that end-of-life planning, hospice and palliative care are of paramount importance to the older adult population in our community and service areas,” said Dr. DeBacker. “This collaboration will improve access to quality health care for a greater number of individuals at Lieberman Center who are faced with advancing age, complex medical conditions and end-of- life issues.”

One important element of the collaboration is the formation of a Joint Advisory Committee. The role of this Committee is to advance the shared vision of the two organizations on end-of-life planning and the provision of hospice and palliative care. The Committee will meet to advise on the development of the Jewish Hospice Program and to support the development of a full and meaningful range of services for Jewish patients and their families.

Key elements of the program include the addition of a Jewish chaplain to the NorthShore Hospice Care staff as well as comprehensive staff training sessions, provided by CJE, about Jewish culture and tradition that will help staff deliver care in accordance with Jewish customs. Topics in this educational program include Jewish religious beliefs around death and dying, holiday observances and other specific issues related to Holocaust survivors.

In June, Rabbi Yitzchak Falk joined the NorthShore Hospice Pastoral Care staff. Rabbi Falk has worked with older adults in a number of settings for over six years. He trained as a chaplain at a local hospital and received Board Certification from the nationally- recognized Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains. “I am excited to join the NorthShore Hospice care team and to be able to work together with CJE staff to provide excellent pastoral care for Jewish and non- Jewish patients and their families,” says Rabbi Falk.

NorthShore’s wide range of home and hospice care is offered in many different settings—at home, in the hospital, in assisted living or long-term residential communities such as Lieberman Center. Hospice care, provided by a specially trained team, provides comfort and support for those who are terminally ill, as well as for their family members. It helps individuals live out their remaining time to the fullest extent possible and honors each person’s unique needs—physical, emotional, spiritual.

Medicare and Medicaid offer comprehensive benefits that cover hospice medical and support services. In fact, 25% of all Medicare payments are made in the last year of life. Medicare hospice use has nearly doubled over the last decade; hospice use among elderly Medicare recipients rose from 26 percent in 2002 to 47 percent in 2012. Statistics show that the majority of terminally ill elderly patients are served by hospice. These findings tell us that, while spending has not decreased, less is spent on invasive medical services that may not change a prognosis or prolong life. Instead more is spent on hospice and palliative care that can actually improve the quality of life. The latter is the goal of the collaboration between CJE SeniorLife and NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Another goal of the relationship between CJE and NSUHS is to make palliative care available to all individuals across the continuum of care. Different from hospice, palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Dr. Marschke and his team have already been actively providing palliative care to Lieberman Center residents and post-acute patients. Dr. Marschke states: “NorthShore’s commitment is making a difference and has been supported by attending physicians at Lieberman Center. We strongly believe that palliative care is not just for those at the end of life but is beneficial to patients and families in a variety of settings and circumstances.”

CJE SeniorLife is pleased to partner with NorthShore University HealthSystem in providing its expertise in this very important aspect of healthcare. As President and CEO Mark Weiner says, “Our affiliation with NorthShore University HealthSystem in providing the Jewish Hospice Program is another major step in our common interest to advance quality care and services not only at Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation but throughout our community. We welcome our partnership and collaboration to bring the best of hospice and palliative care services to our Jewish community.”

For more information about the Jewish Hospice Program, please contact 847.475.3002. Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation is a leading provider of nationally-accredited rehabilitation services and long-term care, conveniently located near Old Orchard in Skokie. For more information or for a tour call 847.929.3320.