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updated: 7/14/2014 2:13 PM

Lake Forest Hospital Receives Advanced Certification for Palliative Care

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Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital has earned Advanced Certification for Palliative Care from The Joint Commission by demonstrating compliance with national standards for health care quality and safety in palliative care. The certification award recognizes Lake Forest Hospital's focus on patient and family-centered care in order to optimize the quality of life for patients with serious illness. Palliative care addresses a patient's physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs and facilitates patient autonomy, access to information and choice.

To achieve certification, Lake Forest Hospital began planning its new palliative care program in 2011 and submitted its application for certification to the Joint Commission in October 2013. The Joint Commission review was a rigorous process that culminated with an on-site review on June 26, 2014, which evaluated the hospital for compliance with palliative care-specific standards, clinical practice guidelines and performance measures. Lake Forest Hospital is the only hospital in Lake County, and one of only four hospitals in the state, to have received this certification.

Lake Forest Hospital's palliative care services are provided through a partnership with Midwest CareCenter, a nationally recognized community, nonprofit palliative care and hospice provider. The palliative care team is generally called by the patient's physician to provide expert symptom management and to sit down with patients and families to explore their goals and values and make sure the treatment plan helps them achieve their goals. When the patient is ready to leave the hospital, the team provides continuity of care by following the patient to their next care setting and continuing regular communication with the patient's other treating physicians.

"What advanced certification means is that every patient facing cancer, heart failure, COPD, dementia or any other serious illness who enters our doors can be confident that he or she has access to a world class palliative care team consisting of specially trained physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains," said Gordon Wood, MD, MSCI, FAAHPM, director of palliative medicine and supportive care for Lake Forest Hospital. "Patients can be assured that this team will work alongside their treating physicians to make sure pain, nausea, shortness of breath and any other distressing symptoms are quickly and expertly treated while the rest of their medical team works to cure or manage their underlying condition."

"The medical community increasingly understands the importance of palliative care to the overall quality of life of patients and their families," said Michael G. Ankin, MD, FACP, FCCP, chief medical officer and pulmonologist at Lake Forest Hospital. "We are proud to provide this type of care for our patients and are honored to be recognized for the work our outstanding palliative care team does every day."

"In achieving Joint Commission advanced certification, Lake Forest Hospital has demonstrated its commitment to the highest level of care for patients with serious illness," says Michele Sacco, M.S., executive director, Advanced Certification for Palliative Care, The Joint Commission. "Certification is a voluntary process and I commend Lake Forest Hospital for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate its standard of care and instill confidence in the community it serves."

Launched in 2011, The Joint Commission's palliative care certification standards are built on The National Consensus Project's Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care and the National Quality Forum's National Framework and Preferred Practices for Palliative and Hospice Quality Care. Certification is available only to Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and provides the framework for a formal, organized palliative care program characterized by:

• an interdisciplinary team whose members possess the requisite expertise in palliative care;

• leadership endorsement and support of the program's goals for providing care, treatment and services;

• a special focus on patient and family engagement; and

• processes that support the coordination of care and communication among all care settings and providers.

For more information about Lake Forest Hospital's palliative care services, visit