The founder of a Eureka-based end-of-life care program has reached out to the Del Norte Healthcare District in the hopes of expanding to the Crescent City area.

Dr. Michael Fratkin, president of Resolution Care, says his program has “taken care of quite a lot of folks” in the absence of hospice care in Del Norte County. He says he spoke with Healthcare District Chairman Dr. Greg Duncan about his efforts to build a palliative care program at Sutter Coast Hospital and is hoping to hear back from Healthcare District representatives on “where their thoughts are.”

“I’m very excited to be part of the community-based conversation among all of the stakeholders that could potentially make a big difference in enhancing the care of people with serious illness living in the Crescent City and surrounding areas,” Fratkin said Thursday.

Resolution Care is a home-centered program that focuses on treating the symptoms and stress of a serious illness and improving the quality of life for the patient and their family. According to Resolution Care’s website, palliative care helps avoid unnecessary testing and hospital visits. Unlike hospice care, palliative care provided by Resolution can be used along with regular treatment, according to the program’s website.

At the Healthcare District’s meeting Tuesday, Duncan told his colleagues that Fratkin had spoken with him about his efforts to institute a program at Sutter Coast Hospital, but said those negotiations weren’t fruitful. According to Duncan, Fratkin is looking for support from multiple avenues, including the Healthcare District.

“It’s an extensive program,” Duncan said. “It involves inpatient hospital care, so it’s not exactly what the district will probably do.”

However, Duncan said, the Healthcare District can help Fratkin get the word out that there is end-of-life support care available as part of its new patient advocacy subcommittee and via its new website.

“We don’t have hospice, so it helps to fulfill a community need,” he said.

Though Resolution Care isn’t a Medicare-certified hospice program, it does provide hospice care, Fratkin said. A nurse and community healthcare worker with the program are based in Crescent City and Gasquet respectively and are able to care for patients in their own homes, he said.

In addition to the Healthcare District, Fratkin said he’d like to have support from Sutter Coast Hospital, Open Door clinic and local private physicians.

“One of the great limitations is that we have contracts with Partnership Health Plan that provides this care for eligible individuals and we have contracts with Blue Shield of California that provides this for eligible individuals, but the large majority of people who are confronted by serious illness and even the end of their life are covered by Medicare or Medicare and MediCal,” he said. “In those situations we are lacking the necessary payment model to support our work, so we’re only able to care for people with those health plans or in situations where people can afford to pay out of pocket for our services.”

At the Healthcare District meeting, HICAP Counselor Helen DuVernay noted that while there isn’t a hospice program in Del Norte County, Sutter Coast Home Care offers the Alternative Illness Management, or AIM program, that offers end-of-life care to terminal and post-terminal patients in their home.

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