Oswego County Hospice gets high marks from national survey

OSWEGO COUNTY — Local health officials were thrilled to recently learn the Oswego County Hospice program ranks in the top 20 percent in the nation for patient satisfaction, according to a nationwide survey for 2018.

Following major organizational and leadership changes four years ago, Oswego County Hospice has been cited twice in the top 20 percent of hospice programs across the county for caregiver satisfaction, based on feedback scores from patient surveys conducted by the California-based digital survey provider Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP).

Oswego County Hospice uses SHP to distribute surveys to families about the care the organization provides, according to Vera Dunsmoor, director of patient services.

“I’m very proud of my team,” Dunsmoor said, adding the health department’s culture of teamwork combined with education make for a successful hospice program. “Our nurses are highly educated and we do the best we can to stay updated on that education in our program.” 

In 2016, Oswego County Hospice ranked in the top 5 percent for patient care nationwide in an independent national survey. In 2018, Oswego County Hospice ranked in the top 18th percentile nationwide, a composite score from all quality measures.

The local hospice program scored its highest marks for “treating family members with respect,” “emotional and religious support” and the proportion of patients who would recommend the program to others.

Oswego County Hospice offers a comprehensive program of home care for terminally ill patients throughout the county that are no longer receiving curative medical care. Program staff includes two home health aides, two support staff members, four case managers, a team of registered and licensed professional nurses and a robust volunteer team, according to Dunsmoor.

The survey also collected anonymous comments, one addressed directly to the county’s team of hospice care providers. 

“Thank you for the many efforts you did,” the response said. “We feel very blessed to have been the beneficiary to your expertise in our loved one’s care. We are very much at ease with her final days with the knowledge that her most important issues and concerns were met.”

Two survey respondents commended the hospice program’s bereavement services for providing “excellent help” for “me and my partner in the time before and during passing.”

Dunsmoor said the program’s two social workers have a workload that is “off the charts.”

“They take care of all the families plus bereavement cases,” she said. “There are anywhere from 150 to 200 cases at one time.”

County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said Oswego County Hospice began in 1980 as the only countywide hospice program. Four years ago, he said the long term and nursing care programs were consolidated into the hospice program to extend those services to the hospice’s countywide reach.

“Oswego County is such a big county and we cover all the county because this is the only hospice agency,” Huang said. “We cut off long term home health programs and kept this program because this program serves the whole population.”

As the only countywide hospice program, Oswego County hospice patient services run the gamut of social and medical services from pastoral care, in-home care, bereavement care and a variety of volunteer services. But what sets the hospice program apart from others is the highly specialized nursing staff, on call 24/7, Huang said.

“Not every nursing aid can work at hospice because they need to have special patient skills and a special heart, and our staff is really, really wonderful,” he said. 

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