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Providers Earn Certifications to Support Palliative Care Service

January 08, 2013

Chin-Lin Ching, M.D.
Chin-Lin Ching, M.D.

Four Highland Hospital physicians and a nurse practitioner have achieved certification and recertification in hospice and palliative care to enhance the quality of the hospital’s growing Palliative Care Consultation Service. Chin-Lin Ching, M.D., Associate Director of Palliative Care at Highland, earned certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine from the American Board of Internal Medicine. Chris Taggart, M.D., achieved Hospice and Palliative Medicine certification from the American Board of Family Medicine. And Elaine Townsend, NP, earned the Hospice and Palliative Care Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Certification through the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses.

Robert McCann, M.D., Chief of Medicine, and Bilal Ahmed, M.D., Associate Chief of Medicine, achieved recertification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Palliative care focuses on pain and stress relief and managing symptoms during all stages of serious illness with the goal of helping people live better and more comfortably. The services at Highland include assistance with pain and symptom management, guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices and emotional and spiritual support. Palliative care physicians also help coordinate patients’ interdisciplinary care teams.

Chris Taggart, M.D.
Chris Taggart, M.D.

“As the population ages, these types of services are becoming increasingly more important,” said Director of Palliative Care Daniel Mendelson, M.S., M.D., F.A.C.P., A.G.S.F., C.M.D. “These certifications represent our continued commitment to excellence in meeting the needs of our patients and their loved ones during difficult times in their lives.”

Since the expansion of Highland’s palliative care service, the number of consults has more than doubled from 160 in 2009 to approximately 400 in 2012. In June, the program earned Advanced Certification for Palliative Care from the Joint Commission, the nation’s main accrediting body in health care.

Elaine Townsend, NP
Elaine Townsend, NP

Highland’s palliative care provider team now includes seven trained physicians and a nurse practitioner in addition to many other professionals. The newly certified providers include:

Dr. Chin-Lin Ching has been at Highland since 2010 and Associate Director of Palliative Care since 2011. She was the physician leader in Highland’s effort to achieve Advanced Certification for Palliative Care. Dr. Ching also is a hospitalist and instructor in the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Department of Medicine. She completed her undergraduate, medical degrees and residency at the University of Rochester.

Dr. Chris Taggart joined Highland in July 2012. Dr. Taggart is an attending physician at Highland Family Medicine and a member of the palliative care team at Highland Hospital. He earned his bachelor's degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and went to medical school at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Dr. Taggart completed his residency in Family Medicine and his fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at Akron City Hospital in the Summa Health System in Akron, Ohio.

Elaine Townsend has been with Highland Palliative Care since 2011. Townsend coordinates the palliative care team’s clinical activities and interdisciplinary rounds. She also is responsible for palliative care education for nurses and gathering quality and administrative data for the program. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Binghamton University and her master’s and post-master’s degrees from the University of Rochester. She also is certified in Geriatric Advanced Practice Nursing.

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