Renamed Helios Care aims to avoid 'stigma' of hospice

 Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care renamed itself Helios Care, a change that CEO and President Dan Ayres said is about more than rebranding.

“The name change allows us to introduce ourselves to patients earlier in the disease process, because it’s not related to the stigma of the word hospice,” Ayres said.

Helios Care’s hospice programs provide care for people with a life-limiting illness, according to a fact sheet from Helios Care. The focus is on caring, not curing, and care can be provided in the patient’s home, nursing home or long-term care facility.

Helios’ palliative care programs help families and patients feel better when they are experiencing a variety of symptoms and side effects from serious, ongoing illness, according to the fact sheet.

Both palliative care and hospice care focus on providing comfort, according to www.medlineplus.gov. The difference is that palliative care can begin at diagnosis and at the same time as treatment. Hospice care begins after treatment is stopped and is mostly offered only when the person is expected to live 6 months or less.

Ayres said the stigma comes from hospice being associated with the end of life.

“Changing our name to Helios Care allows us to open up the conversation with regard to our services,” Ayres said.

Along with hospice and palliative care, Helios Care provides bereavement support, caregiver support and a camp for school-aged children and teenagers dealing with grief to share experiences and move through healing, according to the fact sheet.

Helios Care also wants to reduce the need of patients to use acute-care services, such as that of an emergency department or hospital care, Ayres said. Services like these are the most costly within the spectrum of healthcare to insurance companies, he said.

“If we are able to keep that patient out of the emergency department for less money, that is a value-added service,” Ayres said.

Helios Care has also reduced its overhead costs, consolidated from six buildings to one and put more of its expenses into direct caregivers, he said. It is also making plans, he said, to expand its service area from Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie counties to all those within Bassett Healthcare Network.

Helios Care publicly announced its name change, new logo and branding Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center in Oneonta.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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