Go Back

Salem Health Medical Group is committed to palliative care

05 Jul 2020

Upcoming work to improve patient outcomes

By: Christine Clarke, MD, FACS, chief medical officer for Salem Health Medical Group; and Katie Dobler, vice president of Salem Health Medical Group

You may have recently heard concerns about the current and future state of palliative care services at Salem Health with upcoming staff changes. This specialty and the services it provides our community are extremely important components of the care continuum. Salem Health Medical Group is committed to continuing this work.

We have been and will continue to recruit for board certified palliative care providers. A nationwide shortage of providers in the specialty has made for a challenging and lengthy process to fill vacancies, and it's important to recognize it may take some time to do so. In the interim, we are using our Lean tools to explore and identify alternatives that will continue to deliver the highest quality care to our patients. We've engaged the palliative care team in this work and will continue to include stakeholders to provide a front line perspective. Dr. Chris Clarke, chief medical officer of SHMG, is leading this clinical transformation.

SHMG will continue to contract with Dr. Onishi on a u-status basis and we are exploring additional prescribing provider coverage options. Dr. Jamie Ellis-Wittenhagen, the interim medical director of palliative care, and Dr. Nicole VanDerHeyden, associate chief medical officer, SHMG, are working closely with our hospitalist section and our SHMG hospitalists to provide at the elbow mentoring to further expand skills and familiarity in the provision of palliative care.  Ongoing support will continue from our MSW, chaplain and ethicist palliative care team members.  We're excited to continue this work and appreciate your insight and feedback as we work together toward improving patient outcomes.