Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 15, 2013

Competing hospice workers get pushed out

TRAVERSE CITY— Munson Medical Center no longer will allow competing hospices to care for their patients at the hospital.

As of Nov. 1, patients of a competing hospice were required to either go to a skilled-care, nursing facility for inpatient hospice care or switch to Munson Hospice if they prefer to stay at the hospital.

The new policy will help Munson Hospice remain financially viable and make hospital operations more seamless, said Munson spokesman Ian Jones.

But the change that ousts Hospice of Michigan and others who provide care for terminally ill patients didn’t sit well with some relatives and others.

“It’s a shame it’s come to that,” said Mary Iwanicki, who helps care for her ailing mother, Catherine Suhy, 93, in Honor. “We’ve been very happy with (Hospice of Michigan). ... My mom is slipping away and doesn’t remember as much. So keeping with the same people is better in my mom’s case.”

Munson’s policy could force hospice patients and families into a difficult choice at a very vulnerable time, said Cathy Klemish, Hospice of Michigan’s regional director of clinical services of northern Michigan.

“With Munson being the only hospital facility in the Traverse City area, and one of the few large medical centers in northern Michigan, the effect on patients in these communities is significant,” she said.

Munson officials changed policy in order to provide patients with “seamless care,” said Shari Wilson, president of Munson Home Health, which oversees Munson Hospice.

Munson, she said, is following the industry lead and is behind the curve in Michigan.

Wilson mentioned three downstate hospitals with similar policies. Sparrow Hospital and Henry Ford’s main hospital don’t allow competing hospices, but Henry Ford community hospitals and Ascension’s five hospitals do, said hospital media spokesmen.

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