Home Health Foundation and Lawrence General Hospital Collaborative to Offer Enhanced Palliative Care Services


Lawrence, Mass. (April 27, 2020) – Home Health Foundation, a Lawrence-based nonprofit organization providing essential home health and hospice care in all the places patients call home, and Lawrence General Hospital, an independent, nonprofit community hospital providing patient-centered, compassionate and high quality health care, have teamed to bring enhanced palliative care to patients in the Merrimack Valley.

Palliative care, or specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness, is provided as an extra layer of support by a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and other specialists to patients and their families. It is focused on improving quality of life by relieving the symptoms and stress of illness, and may be administered in conjunction with curative therapies.

Home Health Foundation staff members are working alongside the Palliative Services Team at Lawrence General Hospital seven days a week. They include consulting physicians, patient liaisons, a social worker and nurses who facilitate conversations around goals of care and admission to hospice when appropriate.

“As the number of COVID-19 positive patients began to rise in Merrimack Valley, Lawrence General Hospital’s multidisciplinary Palliative Services Team realized we needed to quickly develop an innovative, hybrid approach to palliative care during a pandemic,” said George Kondylis, MD, chief of emergency and inpatient medicine at Lawrence General Hospital. “In collaboration with Home Health Foundation, we’re combining in-person, telehealth and other newly essential approaches to bring patients, families and caregivers together emotionally, at a time when they’re physically separated by coronavirus.”

While the impetus for the collaboration was supporting the influx of patients with COVID-19, Home Health Foundation Chief Medical Officer Bernice Burkarth, MD said the program fills a pre-existing, vital need benefiting residents of Lawrence and the surrounding region. It also represents yet another partnership between the organizations, which share long-standing ties to the community. Home Health Foundation was founded in 1895 to provide nursing care at home to mill-working families, while Lawrence General Hospital became the first hospital in the Merrimack Valley in 1875.

“Because of the patient-centered and compassionate nature of palliative care, every sign points to this initiative benefiting an ever-increasing number of patients in the years to come,” Burkarth said. “Home Health Foundation is proud to be part of yet another effort by our storied healthcare organizations to come together and share resources for the betterment of the community and its residents.”

To request a palliative care evaluation, call Lawrence General Hospital at 978-683-4000, ext. 2110 or visit www.lawrencegeneral.org/services-and-centers/palliative-care.

About Home Health Foundation

Home Health Foundation, which includes providers Circle Home, Commonwealth Nursing Services, Hallmark Health VNA, Home Health VNA, Home Health VNA of NH, Merrimack Valley Hospice and York Hospital Hospice as part of the Wellforce Health System, provides essential home health and hospice care in all the places patients call home. Together, these agencies are leading the development of a new era of innovation, with a relentless focus on transforming home-based care. For more information, visit HomeHealthFoundation.org.

About Lawrence General Hospital

Lawrence General Hospital is a regional, independent, nonprofit hospital. With more than 272,000 patient visits annually, Lawrence General ensures access to high-quality care, the latest technologies and more than 500 local providers, including primary care and many specialties. A designated Level III Trauma Center, Lawrence General has one of the busiest Emergency Departments in Massachusetts, offers a broad range of specialty surgeries in its new Santagati Center for surgery and leads the region in cardiac care with Massachusetts’ most highly accredited cardiovascular center. It has clinical affiliations with Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center and Beth Israel Lahey Health. It offers services from its main campus in Lawrence, as well as from locations in Andover, North Andover, Methuen, MA and Salem, N.H. For more information, visit www.lawrencegeneral.org.

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