Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Thursday, Sept. 7 @ 12:45 p.m.
Comedy For A Cause Will Benefit Del Norte's New Hospice Program Waiting for its Ability to Bill Medicare to Kick In
A night of stand-up comedy featuring Kermet Apio on Saturday will help a new hospice service in Del Norte County fund its program while waiting for Medicare reimbursement to kick in.
Jamie Daugherty, CEO of Coastal Hospice, told the Crescent City Council on Tuesday that it will take about a year for Medicare reimbursement to fund her program. Meanwhile, Coastal Hospice is seeing patients “100 percent full time.” Daugherty said she wanted to explain what hospice is and what it can do for the community.
“The county has been without hospice for a number of years,” she said. “We are a nonprofit and we only have hospice services. We’re not home health here in the county.”
Coastal Hospice is a subsidiary of Coastal Home Health & Hospice in Curry County. It achieved accreditation through Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP) in March and is seeing between nine and 13 patients currently, Daugherty told the Wild Rivers Outpost.
CHAP, an independent no-profit accrediting body for home and community-based healthcare programs, let Medicare know Coastal Hospice has met their standards. But it can take a year to two years for Medicare to process the paperwork needed for Coastal Hospice to submit claims for reimbursement, Daugherty said.
“We will be able to bill for all of the work, we’re just waiting for Medicare to give us a provider number,” she said. “But in the meantime, we’re funding (our program) out of pocket basically.”
Hospice care comes into play when a patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has decided not to seek curative treatment. Until Coastal Hospice opened its office at 786 H Street in Crescent City, Del Norte residents didn't have access to a local hospice provider, Daugherty told the City Council on Tuesday.
Ellie Popadic, director of operations at Sutter Coast Hospital, told the Outpost on June 13, 2022 that it had been 20 years since a hospice provider operated in Del Norte County. On June 14, 2022, the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors approved a letter to the California Department of Public Health's Centralized Applications Branch supporting the hospital's efforts to obtain a hospice license.
The Board’s letter referred to a moratorium on hospice care in California enacted through State Senate Bill 664 and Assembly Bill 1280 in October 2021.
On Thursday, Daugherty said having to wait for Medicare to issue a provider number and the ability to seek reimbursement is a barrier that any new hospice service has to go through. It’s easier for a provider to purchase an existing hospice service than start a new one, she said.
Coastal Home Health & Hospice has been operating in the Brookings area for more than 50 years. It had been affiliated with the county until about 2011 when it became an independent nonprofit, Daugherty said.
“If that state line wasn’t there, we could have just provided the service,” Daugherty told the Outpost. “We wouldn’t have had to go through all the rigamarole that we did have to go through.”
Similarly, if it wasn’t for the state line, a person living in Crescent City could access the service Coastal Home Health & Hospice provides in Brookings, Daugherty said. Before Coastal Hospice opened in Crescent City, Del Norte residents seeking hospice care would have needed an ID, motel or a physical address in Oregon.
“Even now, let’s say a person lives in Crescent City and they’re getting our services and they decide to move into Sea View, for example,” Daugherty said, referring to a Brookings senior living facility. “We would have to discharge them and readmit them (under) another company because it’s that state line thing.”
Coastal Hospice offers nursing care in the patient’s home as well as symptom and pain management. Hospice provides patients with the medication to manage their symptoms as well as durable medical equipment including hospital beds and walkers. Daugherty said those items can be delivered to the patient that same day or the next day.
Hospice also provides spiritual care and social services, including grief support for the family up to 13 months after their loved one dies, Daugherty said, along with an end-of-life doula.
“It’s just like it sounds and they do similar work as birth doulas,” she said of end-of-life doulas. “It’s non-medical hands-on support. (It’s) helping with breathing, helping with non-medical comfort measures like applying wash cloths, showing people how to do general massage. It’s those kinds of interventions that are comforting, but not medical based.”
Coastal Hospice is also seeking volunteers to work with patients, which includes sitting with them, listening to their stories, running small errands or taking care of pets. Coastal Hospice could also use volunteers to help with clerical tasks. For more information, email email@example.com.
Meanwhile, Comedy for a Cause will start at 7 p.m. Saturday at Elk Valley Casino with the doors opening at 6 p.m. There will be a silent auction featuring tropical gateways, a Rolling Stones guitar and a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey, among other items.
Individual tickets are $25. For more information about the event, click here.