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Duke Endowment awards $433,000 to Johnston Health

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SMITHFIELD— Johnston Health has received $433,000 in grants from the Duke Endowment to enhance a palliative care initiative and to expand Project Access, a community network of care for low-income and uninsured residents in Johnston and Harnett counties.

The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat, as early as possible, the symptoms and side effects of diseases and their treatment, in addition to any related psychological, social and spiritual problems.

Georgia Anthony, director of Project Access, said the endowment grant of $216,000 will be used to continue the program’s work this fiscal year and to add a new position. A community health worker will be hired to visit patients at home to provide education and to connect them to community resources.

“We’re delighted to be able offer these additional resources,” said Anthony. “It’s our mission to improve the health and well-being of the people in our communities.”

Since 2008, Project Access has served more than 3,900 patients. It has offices inside Johnston Medical Mall in Smithfield and on Tilghman Drive in Dunn.

A palliative care initiative will get a boost with the addition of a full-time and a weekend palliative care nurse. During the next two years, an endowment grant of $217,000 will be used for the new positions.

David Dennis, director of Johnston Health Home Care and Hospice, said the nurses will round in the hospital and at the oncology clinics to identify patients who may benefit from palliative and/or hospice care. They will also be available to consult with physicians for patients identified at home as needing services.

Palliative care puts an emphasis on improving the comfort and quality of life for patients and families.

“This could be symptom relief from an illness that may not be life-limiting,” said Anthony. “Hospice is one of the tools in a palliative care program. Palliative care has been identified by the hospitalists as a great need. They see the benefit to our patients in the hospital, and we want to support that. This is a great start, and we’re thrilled.”