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Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024

Health Care—The Elizabeth Hospice generates enough cash to go it alone

The Elizabeth Hospice said it is ending its 15-year affiliation with Palomar Pomerado Health System on Dec. 31, because it has finally gained the financial viability to exist on its own.

The hospice’s board and Palomar Pomerado’s board members already approved to dissolve the latest five-year agreement signed in 1995.

Laura Miller, executive director of the 22-year-old hospice, said the agency had long sought independence from the Palomar Pomerado board members, and had pursued two different directions to end the affiliation.

“We have had the desire to function independently right from the beginning,” Miller said. “The direction of Palomar is to care for people in the hospital, and ours is to care for people at home.”

When the hospice affiliated with Palomar Pomerado in 1985, it had 10 workers providing care to about 15 home-bound and terminally ill patients a day, Miller said.

Palomar Pomerado offered the fledgling organization leadership and payroll assistance, she said.

Since 1995, the hospice annually has managed to raise about $1 million, Miller said. Last year, the hospice received its largest donation in its history , $1 million from a private donor.

Today, the organization has 80 employees caring for about 120 patients a day.

“Our focus is on taking care of patients in the last six months of their lives,” Miller said.

The hospice receives a flat rate of about $115 a day in Medicare reimbursements per patient to cover all costs, from patient’s medicine to nursing care, Miller said. Medicare is the federal government program to provide health care for the elderly.

Miller said no animosity exists between the hospice and the health care system.

“When we joined with (Palomar Pomerado) in 1985, we were like a young child that had a lot of energy that still needed support. Now in our young adult stage we want to go and do things on our own,” she said.

Palomar Pomerado encompasses the 333-bed Palomar Medical Center in Escondido and the 199-bed Pomerado Hospital in Poway and employs 3,500 people.

The two organizations still continue to work together. The hospice also contracts with other local hospitals, including the Tri-City Medical Center and Sharp Memorial Hospital to provide care for patients, Miller said.

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Initial Needle Exchange Meeting: Members of a task force to develop a one-year clean-needle exchange pilot program for the city of San Diego discussed critical issues to get the program under way.

On Nov. 15, several members of the local health care community met with San Diego Deputy City Manager Bruce Herring, who is in charge of the initiative.

The representatives, including Dr. Christopher Mathews from the UCSD Owen Clinic, Linda Lloyd from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, and Gary Stephany from the Healthcare Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, are expected to issue a status report by February 2001.

On Oct. 16, the City Council voted to declare a state of local emergency linked to the spread of the hepatitis C virus by intravenous drug users sharing used needles.

The declaration of a public health emergency by a local government is necessary to set up a needle exchange program in California.

Send health care news to Marion Webb at mwebb@sdbj.com.


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