Penn Highlands Elk Receives Grant

To Further End-Of-Life Planning and to appoint Nurse Practitioner at Pinecrest Manor

Penn Highlands Elk recently received a $140,000 grant from the Stackpole-Hall Foundation of St. Marys. Funding will be used to expand the health system’s POLST program and to appoint a nurse practitioner at Pinecrest Manor, a long-term, skilled nursing facility.

“We are honored to receive this grant from Stackpole-Hall,” said Rose Campbell, president of Penn Highlands Elk. “The Foundation’s continued support has enabled our hospital to provide high quality service to the community.”

Penn Highlands Elk is a leader in the POLST (Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) program. Its goal is to help individuals plan for end-of-life issues. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 70 percent of Americans do not have an advanced care plan. Only 12 percent of healthcare providers report having discussions with their patients about end-of-life care. Yet, statistics show that patients who have plans in advance, usually die more peacefully and do not die any sooner than those without advanced care plans. Grant monies will be used to expand the POLST program, identifying patients who need an advanced care plan and educating them and their families.

Additionally, a Palliative Care Team will be formed to care for patients at their end of life. The grant will also allow Pinecrest Manor to hire a nurse practitioner – or “Advanced Practice Nurse” – for Pinecrest Manor. This individual will be responsible for developing clinical protocols to reduce the number of hospital admissions and will serve on the Palliative Care Team.

“It is our plan to demonstrate the value of the nurse practitioner role in long-term care and expand this role to other facilities in our eight-county service area under the direction of one or two medical directors,” explained Campbell.

Currently, each long-term care facility has its own medical director, who usually also works full time at a hospital. The case load is overwhelming, making it increasingly harder to find physicians willing to serve in this capacity. Having an advanced care nurse to help with charting and the day-to-day oversight of the patients’ care will relieve some of the burden from the physician. Penn Highlands Elk is piloting this nurse practitioner program and hopes to create a model that will be adopted by other skilled nursing facilities in the future.

The Stackpole-Hall Foundation was established in 1951 to improve the fundamental quality of life for residents of Elk County. The Foundation supports education, human services, community development, the environment and the arts. During its 63 years, the Foundation has given 145 grants, totaling more than $3 million to the hospitals and health centers of Elk County.