Boston Hospices Target Minorities To Address Use Disparities
Boston-based Beacon Hospice and at least two other area hospices are marketing services to minority communities in an effort to reduce racial disparities in hospice use, the Boston Globe reports (Rowland, Boston Globe, 3/26). A report released earlier this month by the California HealthCare Foundation found that fewer minorities than whites in California use hospice care for end-of-life services, in part because of health insurance policies, cost and cultural differences. For instance, researchers found that while many black and Hispanic patients desire aggressive end-of-life treatments, many private health plans, as well as Medicare, do not cover such care while a patient is in a hospice (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 3/19). Beacon Hospice, which is staffed primarily with black nurses and home health aides, has targeted minority patients since 2005, but it launched a more aggressive effort in January, the Globe reports. Eric Hardt, clinical director of the geriatric section at Boston Medical Center and medical director of Beacon Hospice's location in Roxbury, said, "The African-American community is just as ready and willing to have them die at home as members of any other community. But if the hospice staff you offer them is white, and their understanding of death and dying is different, if you have a staff that is afraid of entering the neighborhoods, and they have a different feeling about prescribing opiates in the inner city than in the suburbs, people pick up on this instantly." He said, "If you are not culturally competent, people feel this." Hospice Care in Stoneham, Mass., and Hospice of the North Shore, have launched similar efforts (Boston Globe, 3/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.