Hospice of Southern Maine, a nonprofit serving York and Cumberland counties, was recognized as a Hospice Honors 2021 award recipient, based on feedback from caregivers.

On Aug. 31, Hospice of Southern Maine announced that the organization has received the recognition from HEALTHCAREfirst.

“Hospice Honors acknowledges high-performing agencies by analyzing performance of Hospice CAHPS quality measures,” the nonprofit said. “Award criteria were based on Hospice CAHPS survey results for an evaluation period of October 2019 through September 2020. Hospice Honors recipients include those hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst National Performance Score on 20 of the evaluated questions.”

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Daryl Cady, CEO of Hospice of Southern Maine, said the recognition is a reflection of the entire agency.

“The entire team does what it needs to do for the families and the caregivers at the end of life,” she said. “So I’m just so pleased and proud of every single person at Hospice of Southern Maine, especially when you look at the timeframe of this award. It was during the really difficult months of COVID, and everyone has really stepped up and has done their jobs.”

During the past year, and with COVID-19 impacting services, Hospice of Southern Maine began collaborating with hospitals to provide assistance as best as they could, Cady said.

“When the pandemic hit, many patients delayed their care, and they avoided visits to their physicians, hospitals and emergency rooms,” she said. “The hospital was filling with COVID patients, and many other folks were not going to the hospital. As a result of that, we saw fewer folks coming to hospice. Fewer folks were receiving the care that they normally would have. We actually reached out to the local hospitals to work alongside them, to support them internally. It’s the best way we could support folks that needed the help in the hospital, and we offered to provide any hospice support that we could within the hospital.”

As months passed, the agency saw changes regarding the timeline of care, Cady said.

“Once that veil lifted, where folks were going back to doctors and the ER and such, people were presenting much later stages of illness, and they were coming to hospice sicker and they were with us not for the months that they would have been, but maybe for only a few days in some cases, and maybe less than that in some cases,” she said. “It was a very different phenomenon than what we were seeing previously.”

Staff members are almost fully vaccinated, with less than 2 percent of employees currently unvaccinated, Cady said. Volunteers are taking COVID-19 regulations seriously as well.

“We’ve had tremendous support from our employees in terms of being vaccinated, and I think it shows that many of them really love and respect the work they do and have a personal responsibility to this,” she said.

In 2020, Hospice of Southern Maine cared for over 1,800 patients, and was able to provide services like grief support to people who weren’t able to physically be in the area, Cady said. The agency opened a new Home Hospice Center on Route 1 in Scarborough in the fall of 2020.

“I think seeing this award come to us has shown that we haven’t changed the way that we provide care,” she said. “In fact, we’ve done an excellent job at providing care. It’s just done a little bit differently.”

The agency is proud of the recognition, Cady said.

“I think it’s for the entirely of the agency, from that first call to the last visit that the clinicians, social worker, nurse or aid, whomever, make to the home,” she said.

Ronda Howard, vice president of Revenue Cycle and CAHPS at HEALTHCAREfirst, congratulated Hospice of Southern Maine on the achievement in a press release.

“Hospice Honors recipients are industry leaders in providing quality care and constantly seeking ways to improve,” Howard said. “We are honored to be aligned with such high-performing agencies like Hospice of Southern Maine and we congratulate them on their success.”

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