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Franklin Hospice Achieves Deficiency-Free Survey


Karen M. Giffin, AVP of Mission Advancement

Chambersburg, Penn.  – Franklin Hospice marked its first three full years of operations by achieving a 100 percent deficiency-free survey earlier this year from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s a relatively rare accomplishment for a start-up hospice provider, according to Lu Ann Onufer, Associate Vice President of Clinical Services for Chambersburg-based Franklin Hospice and Hospice of Washington County in Hagerstown.

Hospice providers must pass a state survey as they’re opening and then successfully pass the same survey every three years. The surveys are administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and are conducted on behalf of both the Commonwealth and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Pennsylvania’s surveyors are trained and certified to examine hospitals, home health, and hospice providers, so it’s a rigorous process, Onufer explained.

For a provider like Franklin Hospice, “The focus first and foremost is on quality,” she said. “To get there, the key is education and training of all our staff—not just the clinical staff but also ensuring the clerical and administrative staff dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ in documenting the quality care we provide. It’s all part of a commitment to what the efficiency experts call ‘continuous quality improvement.’”

The surveyors are looking at literally hundreds of standards required under the Pennsylvania and Medicare regulations, Onufer noted, from patient care to documentation and record-keeping and staff training and education. “The surveyors assess our quality of care by visiting patients and families in their homes and interviewing them. They want to make sure we are following the individualized plan of care we develop for each patient. They audit our patient charts and review employee records to ensure our staff have the proper licensure or certification and are complying with continuing education and health requirements.”

“For a quality provider like Franklin Hospice, the survey is way to demonstrate we are fulfilling our commitment to the community to provide quality care,” added Franklin Hospice CEO Sara McKay. “Achieving a deficiency-free survey is not as easy as it sounds.”

Asked who’s responsible to ensure a successful survey, Onufer replied: “Everyone—from the doctors, nurses, and home health aides to the social workers, chaplains, and volunteers and everyone in the office supporting that team.”

Staff education and development is an important part of Onufer’s responsibilities; they are key to achieving a deficiency-free survey, she stated. “As a quality hospice provider, we value ongoing education. Like hospices everywhere, we’re seeing more acutely ill patients, patients with care needs that are much higher than they used to be. Through our ongoing education programs, including our new skills lab, we can be sure our staff are keeping up with what they need to know, the skills they need, to meet the needs of our patients.”

In a highly competitive market like Franklin County, consumers can access a tremendous amount of information about local hospice providers. “Savvy consumers can search for hospice providers in Franklin County and see how we’ve done on Medicare quality surveys and patient-family satisfaction surveys. They can see how well Franklin Hospice scores when it’s time for them to choose a local hospice,” McKay said. “With a survey result like this, patients and families in Franklin County can be confident their care is being provided by a great team and a quality hospice.”

For more information, please call Franklin Hospice at 717-504-3465.

About Hospice of Washington County and Franklin Hospice

A leader in community-based, mission-driven end-of-life care in the Mid-Atlantic, Hospice of Washington County provides palliative care, hospice care, and comprehensive grief and bereavement care throughout Washington County, Md. Founded in 1980 by a core group of local citizens, Hospice of Washington has been able to meet community need for serious illness and grief and bereavement care thanks to the generous support of a caring community. Its stand-alone, 12-bed inpatient hospice care center, Doey’s House, opened in 2017 to offer a home-away-from-home for hospice patients requiring 24/7 pain and symptom management for brief periods. Hospice of Washington County’s comprehensive grief and bereavement programs for children, teens, and adults are open free of charge to anyone in the community who has suffered a loss. In 2020, Hospice of Washington County launched Franklin Hospice in Chambersburg, Penn., to serve patients throughout Franklin County, Penn. Under the direction of its Board of Directors comprised of distinguished local business, healthcare, and community leaders, Hospice of Washington County and Franklin Hospice work each day to fulfill their mission of “embracing individual needs with love, kindness, and compassionate care while creating meaningful end-of-life experiences for our patients and families.”

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