Oregon Senate OKs expanded palliative care

Provides longer-term help than hospice care

SALEM, Ore. - More Oregonians would have access to important palliative health care services if the state’s numerous hospice organizations could provide them, backers of a Senate-passed bill say.

Senate Bill 177 – which passed with a 26-0 vote on the Senate floor Monday – will help to address that issue by allowing hospice programs to provide palliative health care services. Oregon Senate Democrats said in a news release.

Palliative care is patient- and family-centered medical care that focuses on quality of life for seriously ill patients and their families.

“Hospice care and palliative care are very similar to each other, and right now they operate as separate silos in the health care process,” said Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham), who carried the bill on the Senate floor. “This will allow more patients to receive palliative care in the comfort of their own homes. It also will make palliative care more accessible, because hospices will be able to offer that service in more communities.”

Palliative care addresses the physical, social and spiritual needs of a patient while facilitating the patient’s authority, access to information and choice. It can include discussing treatment goals and available treatment options, as well as pain and symptom management. Palliative care is most often offered in hospitals, but it can be provided in homes, nursing homes and other settings.

Hospice care organizations address similar needs of patients and families, but they can only serve patients whose life expectancy is mere months or weeks, and it’s most commonly provided in the patient’s home. Senate Bill 177 will allow hospice organizations to deliver palliative services in patients’ homes.

Senate Bill 177 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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