Yolo Hospice expands palliative care

Yolo Hospice expands palliative care

Photo Credits: TESSA KOGA / AGGIE

Dignity Health Woodland Memorial Hospital provides grant for YoloCare

With assistance from a community grant provided by Dignity Health Woodland Memorial Hospital, Yolo Hospice will soon expand its palliative care program called YoloCare.

According to Yolo Hospice’s website, “The YoloCare palliative care program provides an extra layer of support for people dealing with a serious illness. We are here to help you navigate the often confusing healthcare system.”

YoloCare encompasses support beyond diagnoses or medicine. Currently, the program reaches about 55 patients. Louise Joyce, the director of community development at Yolo Hospice, explained how YoloCare started.

“YoloCare is our palliative care program, [and] it was founded in 2016,” Joyce said. “Back in 2016, partnership health plans were interested in gathering some data about the needs for palliative care within our region. Through a criteria process, four hospices were selected to participate in the pilot program. It went for a year and it provided a service, and we would get reimbursed from partnership health funds.”

Joyce noted how the program was continued a year after the launch of the pilot program.

“It was a wonderful exercise in gathering data about the patients that were using the emergency room for not just their medical attention but their medical needs,” Joyce said. “Lots of people on palliative care have a chronic or serious illness requiring an extra layer of supportive care. Once the pilot program was over, we launched our palliative care program and kept it going.”

Craig Dresang, the CEO of Yolo Hospice, noted how the grant they received will be able to increase the number of clients by 33 percent — to about 80 clients.

“We will seek out new clients among the most vulnerable residents of Woodland and West Sacramento, those typically without health insurance, which is just beginning to cover palliative care,” Dresang said to The Davis Enterprise.

Joyce also indicated that attaining the grant from Dignity Health went relatively smoothly.

“Dignity Health was very clear about the criteria, and they set up a workshop way before the grant was due,” Joyce said. “We got to sit down with other nonprofits in the area, and received information from Dignity and brainstormed about collaborating together. A huge thing about Dignity was about collaboration — collaborating with like-minded nonprofits that are doing the same work — [and] it’s huge because they understand that together we can accomplish so much more and reach a larger audience.”

Dresang suggested that supportive care was important, as receiving news about an illness can be difficult for patients to grasp and cope with.

“Getting a diagnosis of a serious illness can be devastating and overwhelming,” Dresang said to The Enterprise. “Our team provides not only comfort care but also guidance through the healthcare system and through learning to live with an illness. Research shows that leads to reduced stress levels and better health outcomes.”

With the grant from Dignity Health, YoloCare hopes to include more underserved individuals.

“[Dignity Health] wanted to reach out to the underserved in the east and west Woodland, so we’ve partnered with Fourth and Hope — who provided services to homeless people, as they are underserved — and we’ve also partnered with Community Care […],” Joyce said. “We are going to provide education around palliative care, we’re going to be collaborating on resources for the homeless back and forth, we are going to be working with the Yolo Adult Day Health Center in Woodland that currently has a whole health center, but they have a waitlist for that center. It’s challenging because sometimes that waitlist is so long so people do not get admitted to the health center, so we would be a good second option for the people who are on that waitlist.”

Dresang expressed YoloCare’s appreciation for the grant, as they are now able to create new goals and reach out to more people.

“We’re deeply grateful to Dignity Health for allowing us to increase our capacity to serve the community in this way,” Dresang said to The Davis Enterprise. “As Baby Boomers age, they are putting strains on the medical systems, and we’re committed offering expert and compassionate care to all who need it.”

Joyce also expressed gratitude toward Dignity Health since the program does not have any other funds.

“We’re just extremely grateful,” Joyce said. “Our palliative care program is one of our programs at Yolo Hospice [that] is currently not funded. This is a service that we provide to our community because we understand the needs that are out there, so we’re grateful for this grant to help us expand that more and provide the services that are so greatly needed within our community.”           

Written by: Stella Tran — city@theaggie.org