As an employee of a hospice in a different state, I would normally not comment on what another hospice is doing business wise.  However, this story struck me as strange.  A hospice is cutting SW jobs to increase nursing jobs as a means of providing for longer nursing visits!   I wonder if the hospice, in assuming that the nurses are stretched out too far and believing they need more nurses to allow nursing to be more patient-friendly, is neglecting other elements of hospice, namely holistic comfort care.  To trade nursing for SW seems to remove the best hospice has to offer.  Perhaps they will see that down the road.  As a long time hospice chaplain, all I can say is that for a hospice to function both efficiently and with the maximum effort in patient care, cutting one service for the other would not be my first choice.  Unfortunately, with the way federal funding is going, I have a feeling this won’t be the last such situation.   

Hospice of the Bluegrass said it is laying off as many as 20 social work positions across the state and adding 10 to 12 nursing positions by early 2012.

Hospice said it wanted to change staff caseloads to increase the availability of nurses to patients and families in its 32-county service area.

“This caseload modification will increase the time nurses can spend with patients,” said Gretchen Brown, president and chief executive of Hospice of the Bluegrass.

Hospice of the Bluegrass has offices in Lexington, Nicholasville, Frankfort, Cynthiana, Florence, Hazard, Corbin, Harlan and Pikeville. The Corbin, Harlan and Pikeville offices will not lose any social work positions, Hospice said.

Employees affected by the change will be offered severance packages and given at least 60 days’ notice.