May 28, 2017
The Honorable House Representatives
Georgia House of Representatives
18 Capitol Square SW, Atlanta, GA 30334
Dear House of Representatives
RE: House Bill 509 on Improved Quality and Delivery of Patient and Family Oriented Palliative Care in the State of Georgia
The legislation that amended Chapter 7 of Title 31 of the Annotated Georgia Official Code, seeking to improve the quality of health and administration of patient and family-centered palliative care in the state is of paramount interest to me because I am a student nurse almost completing my studies. Palliative nursing and hospice are not only a fundamental aspect of healthcare reform but also necessary for quality healthcare delivery. Besides as a nurse in clinical practice, I am responsible for advocating and providing for safe, compassionate, ethical, competent, and well-informed patient and family oriented palliative care.
Advances in medical technology and the aging of the baby boomer generation have largely contributed to a population of people living longer with chronic illness. For instance, as Kwak & Polivka, (2014) note, by 2030 the number of people in long-term nursing facilities in the U.S. is expected to increase substantially. Nurses care for patients with multiple complex and chronic diseases, as much as their care towards the end of life. Unfortunately, most health facilities and nursing homes fall short on delivering the high-quality care patients deserve due to some factors such as limited resources, inadequately trained staff, and incompetent nursing leadership (Reader & Gillespie, 2013). Other factors include inadequate pain management, which is very common as little or no attention is given to its improvement. Similarly, there is little attention to advanced care planning and most of the times referrals are made when it is too late for the patient to recover. Besides, a high number of hospitalized patients suffering from severe illnesses face several obstacles when getting quality care. For instance, as Van, Lemos & Gijsberts (2017) point out, people suffering from advanced dementia require palliative or hospice care in their end of life, but only a few receive the love and care from nurses and their family members.
The bill that seeks to implement initiatives for improving quality care and delivery of patient and family focused palliative care in Georgia, offers a compelling solution to the problem at hand. The amended article will ensure that the interventions intended to alleviate pain and suffering are the best quality for patients and their families. The interventions, which affect special care units, nursing facilities, home care, rehabilitation centers among others will not only improve quality care and patient satisfaction but is also likely to prolong life. Besides, with improved palliate care hospitals are likely to record minimal death rates, prevent a various medical crisis with pre-emptive symptom management as well as reduced cases of depression. In addition, the amendment of the article is more likely to reduce the emergency department calls, visits, and hospitalizations, which in return means reduced healthcare costs for the public. Moreover, the amendment asserts the long-standing emphasize by regulatory board for quality measures emphasizes the importance of providing data to prove the nursing home’s ability to rehabilitate patients and provide quality care (Castle & Ferguson, 2010). In light of this, the article amendment removes some of the significant hurdles often faced by nursing homes and other health facilities offering care to terminally ill patients.
The bill leaves no room for argument that the solution to higher quality care in terminally ill patients is the integration and standard practice of patient and family focused palliative care. As it is, the amendment makes the provision of quality care a reality for most of the vulnerable patients.
Castle, N. G., & Ferguson, J. C. (2010). What Is Nursing Home Quality and How Is It Measured?. Gerontologist, 50(4), pp. 426-442.
Kwak, J., & Polivka, L. J. (2014). The Future of Long-Term Care and the Aging Network. Generations: the Journal of the Western Gerontological Society, 38(2), pp. 67-73.
Reader, T. W., & Gillespie, A. (2013). Patient neglect in healthcare institutions: a systematic review and conceptual model. Bmc Health Services Research, 13(1), pp.1-15.
Van, S. J. T., Lemos, D. N., Gijsberts, M. H. E., Vermeulen, L. H., Mahler, M. M., & The, B. A. (2017). Palliative care for people with dementia in the terminal phase: a mixed-methods qualitative study to inform service development. Bmc Palliative Care, 16(28), pp. 1-14.
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