The following letter was written by Dr. James C. Pettit, Director of Long-Term Care for Little River Healthcare.

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The letter is intended to be read by the families and loved ones of new patients in the Long-Term Care program.
You may download and/or print the letter in its original format by clicking here.
Providers: for an editable version, click here.

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To the Family and Loved Ones of our Dear Patients:

Dear Friend,

A close relative or loved one of yours is a resident at a local Long-Term Care Facility. As the Medical Director at that facility, I have become your loved one’s primary care physician. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to discuss how we provide medical evaluation and management for your loved one.

Along with my team of experienced medical providers, I work closely with this facility’s staff to provide timely medical care for your loved one. Once your loved one leaves this facility, however, our responsibility for medical care ceases, and arrangements for care with an office-based physician must be made.

My team of Mid-level Practitioners and I are not employees of this facility. We are independent health care providers, so you may receive a separate billing from us, as you might from your local office-based practitioner.

A Mid-level Practitioner from my medical team visits your facility at least once weekly to perform regularly scheduled visits with all residents under our care. I also visit this facility once every week or two to oversee the care and personally evaluate the residents who may experience special difficulties. Either the Mid-level Practitioner or I am on-call around the clock to discuss emergency patient care issues with the facility staff, and to provide treatment guidance in the form of orders for care, or to recommend a transfer to a local Emergency Department for a more timely evaluation. With this arrangement, my team can supply, at the least, the same level of medical management you would obtain from a local medical provider if your loved one were at home.

The professional qualifications I bring to your loved one include a 30-year career in healthcare, earning national board certifications in Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Currently, the majority of my medical practice involves long-term care and hospice medicine. More specifically, I am the Medical Director for several Long-term Care Facilities, Guardian Home Health, and Gentiva Hospice. Whatever the context, care of the elderly has been a large part of my medical practice throughout my career, and I take great joy in what I do.
Our goal at this long-term care facility is to help your loved one recover to the fullest extent possible, and if able, to return to the community to live independently or with family and friends.

Sometimes, full recovery is not possible. This facility may prove to be your loved one’s home for the next weeks, months, or even years. We all want whatever time remains on this earth to be of the best quality possible; this facility’s staff, my medical team, and I will work hard to make that happen. The laws of nature being what they are, however, we all will find ourselves declining. At some point, we all reach that stage when discussion of end-of-life issues becomes important. When I, as your loved one’s physician, perceive certain signs that we might expect a more rapid decline within the next six to twelve months, I may ask you to participate in a care conference where those issues may be fully discussed, and appropriate plans be formulated. I hope you will find that acceptable.

If you would like to discuss your loved one’s care with me or the Mid-level Practitioner, let the facility staff know and we will contact you. Thank you for allowing us to participate in your loved one’s care.

Sincerely,
James C. Pettit, DO