Hospital officials: Merger won't change service

March 3, 2014

Patients and their families will not be directly affected by a local hospice’s merger with another organization in the region, according to an official. 

The hospice at Memorial Hospital in Martinsville merged with Legacy Hospice of the Piedmont, a comparable program of Danville Regional Medical Center, in October and assumed the Legacy name. The hospitals are owned by LifePoint Hospitals and have formed a regional health care system. 

Lisa Marie DiLuigi, market director for Legacy Hospice, said no noticeable changes in policies, procedures or services are planned due to the merger. 

Legacy Hospice provides care and services to “people facing life-limiting illnesses,” as well as their families and caregivers, DiLuigi said. 

In Henry County-Martinsville, patients and prospective patients of Legacy Hospice will continue to receive information and services through Memorial. They do not need to call or visit the hospice’s Danville office, according to Leslie Smith, LifePoint’s regional communications director. 

Legacy Hospice officials estimated they usually have a couple of hundred patients during the course of a year. 

As of last week, Legacy had 16 patients, and about half were local people. Since the merger, DiLuigi said, the patient load has been about evenly split between Henry County-Martinsville and Pittsylvania County-Danville. 

The service area also includes parts of Halifax and Campbell counties, but DiLuigi said the hospice currently has no patients in those counties. As of last week, Legacy had 16 patients across its service area, and about half were in Henry County and Martinsville. 

The service area also includes Danville and Pittsylvania County and parts of Halifax and Campbell counties. However, DiLuigi said the hospice currently is not serving any patients in those two counties. 

Since the merger, she said, about half of the hospice’s patients have been from Henry County-Martinsville and the other half from Danville-Pittsylvania County. 

The hospice has 17 employees, 11 of whom work in Henry County-Martinsville, either all the time or as they are needed, she said. 

The employees include Dr. Arthur Sleeper, an oncologist at Memorial who serves as medical director, plus an alternate medical director — Dr. Saria Saccocio, Danville Regional’s chief medical officer — who is called upon if Sleeper cannot be reached when needed, DiLuigi said. 

Both Sleeper and Saccocio are paid through a combination of funds from their hospitals and the hospice, she said. 

Employees also include the market director, an administrative assistant, a clinical manager, five registered nurses, two certified nursing assistants, a medical social worker, a chaplain and three liaisons who help educate the community about Legacy and hospice care in general, DiLuigi said. 

One liaison is stationed at Memorial and another at Danville Regional. 

Registered nurse Betty Smith is the liaison at Memorial. Her official job title, Memorial officials have said, is transitional care coordinator for the hospital’s home health and hospice programs, and she often is the first hospice worker with whom patients, potential patients and their families make contact. 

The other liaison travels the region providing outreach for the hospice, such as by communicating with doctor’s offices and nursing homes about patients they have who are under the hospice’s care and figuring out ways to educate area residents about the hospice’s services, such as by speaking at churches and community events, according to DiLuigi. 

“Our goal is to get patients who need us access to our services” as quickly as possible to help them live better and easier, she said. 

Legacy Hospice also has about 20 volunteers who perform duties such as calling patients to check on them, handling office tasks and sitting with patients whose caregivers need rest, DiLuigi said. 

Employees are considered to be employed by both the hospice and LifePoint, she said. In comparison, Memorial has 867 employees and roughly 100 volunteers, Leslie Smith said.

For more information about Hospice Services, call 276.666.7469