What is Getting the Most Out of Life (GMOL)?

GMOL is an Alameda County Health Care Services Agency (HCSA) Program designed to increase education and utilization of advance care planning and hospice services in Alameda County. We aim to reduce suffering, by honoring the wishes of patients who are seriously ill, and to reduce health care costs by minimizing repeat emergency room visits and extended hospital stays. Most importantly, we work to create supportive environments that encourage people to consider, communicate and document their health care wishes, long before a medical crisis occurs.

GMOL offers culturally relevant education and support to communities who need advanced planning resources. We conduct Advance Directive and POLST trainings to engage Alameda County residents at all levels of health, especially those who are dealing with illness at end-of-life. We also teach people how to have The Conversation* with others about documenting medical preferences. GMOL has identified a community based organization, Comfort Homesake Inc., to assist in reaching the elderly, the terminally ill and the medically frail within commonly underserved communities.

Alameda County provides comprehensive health care services through a contracted network of health care providers under the direction of a Board of Supervisors, administered by HCSA. All clinics within the Alameda Health Consortium provide primary care, health education and general medical support. The seriously ill, however are referred to a medical specialist, if they have insurance, or to Highland Hospital. GMOL supports patients and caregivers to document their advance health care wishes and to choose hospice care in their own homes, when the time right.

Hospice is a model of health care which provides medical treatment, emotional support and spiritual resources for patients and families dealing with terminal illness. Services are offered by an interdisciplinary team specializing in pain relief, symptom management and minimizing the stress associated with caring for a dying loved one.

The Compassionate Care Coalition reports that 76% of people with serious illness have thought about end-of-life, yet only 17% have actually talked to their doctors. Doctors say they have thought about end-of-life for patients with serious illness but only 16% of those doctors actually spoke with their patients. The doctors are waiting for the patients and the patients are waiting for the doctors!

In Alameda County we need a system that engages end-of-life care. We need to provide options for the terminally ill, beyond the current medical model, which consistently hooks intensive care patients up to machines and tubes. Our goal is to provide patients with an understanding of what to expect from the medical system and allow them to document their end-of-life wishes, whatever those may be.