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Medicare Officials Release First-Ever Quality Scores for Hospice Providers
Villa Marie Claire hospice scores highest average for quality in Bergen County

For the first time, Medicare officials posted quality scores for more than 3,800 hospice providers on its new website, Hospice Compare, with the aim of helping consumers make more informed decisions about end of life care. Villa Marie Claire, a residential hospice in Saddle River, NJ scored the highest average for quality in Bergen County.

"The interdisciplinary staff fosters a culture of hope, healing, and well–being," said Dr. Charles Vialotti, medical director of Villa Marie Claire. "For residents, this means living life on their terms with dignity, comfort, and respect. For loved ones, it means arriving at a place of peace and acceptance. It is our goal to embrace families in this final stage of life's journey and focus on being present in the here and now."

Nearly 200 hospice provided listed on the site are based in New Jersey. Patients and families can visit the site to compare up to three hospices at a time. Quality scores were based on how hospices ranked in seven different measures, with national averages posted for each.

Those measures include whether patients were screened for pain, pain assessment if pain was identified, shortness of breath assessment, timeliness of shortness of breath treatment, whether patients' opioid–related constipation was treated, whether patients and caregivers were asked about treatment preferences, and whether patients and caregivers were asked about their beliefs and values at the beginning of hospice care.

The release of the scores coincides with the state's recent announcement about a $5 million budget appropriation allowing Villa Marie Claire to lead and develop a model for end–of–life–care in New Jersey.

"We believe that creating a standard for the appropriate use of end–of–life–care resources, introduced at the appropriate time, will result in a reduction in state and federal costs stemming from unnecessary hospital admissions, ER visits, procedures, tests, and treatment," said Senator Paul Sarlo (D–36). "Of course, the most important goal we're working towards is better quality of life for New Jersey residents and their families."

"The conversation about end–of–life care is an important one that all families need to be having and that our policymakers need to address," said former Senator and now Port Authority Chairman Kevin O'Toole. "This funding supports the full spectrum of end–of–life care, encompassing the patient, family, caregiver, provider and community."

The budget appropriation supports the project's eight key initiatives, which aim to address every aspect of care in the two years leading up to a person's death and the 12 months following a person's death; the development of education, training, and state certification courses for doctors, nurses, social workers, and other healthcare professionals; research comparing end–of–life–experience and quality of life for those enrolled and not enrolled in hospice programs; and policy recommendations in partnership with the Medical Society of New Jersey.

"One of the most important healthcare reforms our state must address is improving care for New Jersey patients in the final chapters of their lives," said Michael Maron, president and CEO of Holy Name Medical Center. "We know that while life–extending care and other medical treatments may lengthen life, it may be at the expense of quality of life. Our goal is to help patients and families understand the difference and maximize the moments they share in their final months, weeks, days or hours together. We are proud to lead a statewide effort to improve end–of–life care in New Jersey, and we thank Governor Christie for having the foresight to be a leader on this critical issue."

Villa Marie Claire is the only freestanding hospice in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area and offers a unique approach to end of life care. The scenic 26–acre estate in Saddle River, New Jersey provides all of the comforts of home with modern amenities and accommodations for both patients and their families, including lush gardens, outdoor patios and an in ground pool.

To view Villa Marie Claire's scores, visit Medicare.gov/HospiceCompare. For more information about Villa Marie Claire visit villamarieclaire.org or call 201-783-8870.

Villa Marie Claire hospice, located in Saddle River, NJ