More hospitals offering palliative care programs, study finds

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Like many long-term care providers, hospitals are diving deeper into the palliative care market, a new analysis shows.

Hospitals palliative care programs have increased 96% over the past six years, according to the Center to Advance Palliative Care. Recent data collected by the CAPC indicates that 1,240 hospitals (one-third that could) currently provide palliative care programs, compared to just 632 programs in 2000. As recently as 10 years ago, no hospitals offered such care, which is aimed at relieving the pain, symptoms and stress of patients who have a serious illness, according to Dr. Diane Meier, CAPC director.

About 70% of hospitals with 250-beds or more have a palliative care program, according to the study. Researchers used data collected in the 2006 American Hospital Association Annual Survey of Hospitals to reach their conclusions.

Several prominent nursing home chains have recently announced bigger pushes into the hospice and palliative care realm. Last week, for example, Manor Care tapped Stephen L. Guillard to be its new executive vice president and COO. He adds the responsibility of running the nation's largest nursing home chain's hospice and home care operations, which exceed $500 million in annualized revenues.