Community Networks

September-October 2001

Partnerships between Catholic Charities and Catholic Health Care Organizations

Like other health care organizations in the  United States, Catholic health care facilities are developing new relationships with a wide array of partners to extend their ministry and to improve efficiency, coordination, and quality of care.

In forming these partnerships, Catholic-sponsored organizations may have an advantage over others. Through Catholic Charities and other social  service programs, the Catholic Church in the United States is the largest provider of human services. In addition, the church's  network of almost  20,000 parishes enable health care organizations to reach into communities where little infrastructure exists. The current movement toward integration of community-based health and social services creates opportunities for church-sponsored organizations to work together as  never before.

Health Progress publishes an ongoing series of case studies of such  partnerships, hoping they might  serve as models for those creating integrated systems of care. These case studies of Catholic Charities agencies and Catholic health organizations were prepared  by the Catholic Health Association as part of New Covenant, an initiative designed to promote collaborative efforts of the Catholic  health  ministry at the national and regional levels.

Here is another case study. Health Progress will present others in future issues.

Community Hospice House
Merrimack, NH

Organization Structure
The program is operated by Home Health and Hospice Care of Nashua, NH, a private, not-for-profit agency that contracts with New Hampshire Catholic Charities for facilities management.

Goals of Affiliation
The goal is to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort to people who are terminally ill.

The Project
New Hampshire had long needed a second hospice house. The project to form it brought together Home Health and Hospice Care of Nashua (HHHCN) and New Hampshire Catholic Charities.

HHHCN is a 115-year-old, not-for-profit provider of home care and nursing services. Catholic Charities, which owns and operates seven nursing homes and has agreements with two religious communities for the management of their long-term care centers, has extensive expertise in facilities management.

HHHCN surveys and assessments had shown that, although many hospice patients wished to die at home, they were prevented from doing so by the lack of a family caregiver. Family members, physicians, and insurers agreed that a hospice house would meet the needs of the terminally ill and their families. The agency launched a yearlong campaign that brought in more than $3 million in pledges for the construction of a house and an endowment for patients in need.

Community Hospice House opened in December 2000. Its 10 rooms have had nearly 100 percent occupancy from the start. The house's services, provided by HHHCN, include palliative or comfort care, hospice nursing, personal care, bereavement support, nutritional counseling, family counseling, and spiritual support—all intended to protect the dignity of the patient and his or her family members. Catholic Charities provides the facilities management.

The two partners recently had their contract reviewed by the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Boston, to ensure that it met the requirements of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.

Governance Structure
The hospice house is governed by HHHCN's board of directors, of which the Catholic Charities' diocesan director is a member.

Residents are cared for by an interdisciplinary team consisting of the medical director, hospice house manager, patient coordinator, chaplain, cook, nurses, certified nurse aides, social workers, homemakers, and volunteers. Volunteers are required to complete 30 hours of in-depth training.

Care provided at the house is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance policies; however, fees for room and board are not covered. HHHCN established a Community Hospice House Endowment Fund to cover the costs of end-of-life care for those in need.

Effect on Community
Community response has been overwhelmingly positive. Patients' family members have especially praised the comprehensive nature of the hospice house's services.

Raymond Mailloux
Diocesan Director
New Hampshire Catholic Charities
Manchester, NH

Practical Advice
Don't be afraid to take risks. Utilizing the experience of our two very different organizations has proven effective in bringing services for the dying to a higher, more inclusive level.

If your health care organization is collaborating with a Catholic Charities agency in your area, we would like to know about it. Please contact Julie Trocchio by phone at 202-296-3993 or by e-mail at [email protected].


Copyright © 2001 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Community Networks - September October 2001

Copyright © 2001 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.