The Blog to Transform Advanced Care
Advancing Care through Innovation, Observation and Collaboration.
Ever since the Maine Hospice Council became the first statewide entity dealing with end-of-life care, the focus had been on balancing the needs of the public with needs of providers in an ever-changing health care system. As the Council continued to mature and evolve, the multi-disciplinary board realized its vision needed to be as comprehensive as possible. To accomplish this work, the revenue stream needed to be diverse. A decision that has served the organization well for the past 30 years. Successful grant writing contributed to education of funders while, at the same time, continuing to cast a wider net with programming.
In 1989, after much education, the Maine Legislature agreed that end-of-life care was everyone’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of one non-profit. Henceforth, the discussion was framed as a public/private collaboration. This resulted in the passage of legislation to support operations of the Council with an annual grant from the General Fund. Monies that continue to this day.
The healthcare landscape and the economy were changing rapidly. Many individuals and families were falling through the cracks. Because of this, more of the Council’s resources were targeted toward access and quality for underserved and/or disenfranchised communities. This led to programs and initiatives including, but not limited to, hospice licensure; one of the first Hospice/Veterans partnerships in the country; a community/state partnership grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; an innovative end-of-life program at the Maine State Prison; a collaborative State Pain Initiative; and opportunities for international travel, including an invitation to speak at a Human Rights Conference in Scotland. At the request of State Government and in collaboration with the MMA, MOA, ACS and the Board of Licensure in Medicine, the Council also published a physician self-study packet on “Pain Management at End of Life”.
The Maine Council has been instrumental in advancing policy for serious illness. In 2002, the Council passed LD 802, mandating licensed commercial insurance companies pay Hospice benefits. In 2009, the Council was designated as the administrative home for POLST. In 2015, we worked with ACS CAN to pass legislation creating a Palliative Care and Quality of Life Interdisciplinary Advisory Council. This year, the Advisory Council was successful in passing LD 1064, comprehensive palliative care benefits for Mainecare recipients.
Our journey has been exciting. Today the Council continues its efforts to “Improve access to quality end of life and palliative care through innovation, creativity, education, advocacy and collaboration.” Program development remains grounded in collaboration, inclusive of the many individuals and organizations that believe in our mission.
However, while the market and economy may fluctuate, needs of individuals and families dealing with end of life, palliative care and advanced serious illness remain as compelling as ever. The Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care has made every effort to remain relevant in our rapidly changing world. Board members and staff remain incredibly grateful to all who continue to believe in our innovative work.
For more information on the Maine Hospice Council & Center for End-of-Life Care, visit their website here.