URMC Palliative Care Program Receives National Recognition

July 21, 2005

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has awarded the University of Rochester Medical Center its annual “Circle of Life” Citation of Honor award in recognition of the Medical Center’s community-based palliative care/end-of-life care initiative, research programs, and education for medical students and residents. 

“This award not only reflects the quality of the programs we have developed in Rochester, they also point to the importance of seeking and providing community-wide solutions to complex health issues,” said Timothy Quill, M.D., director of the Center for Palliative Care and Clinical Ethics at the Medical Center.  “Patients who are seriously ill and their families must often grapple with a host of issues related to their care, including knotty ethical and legal questions, pain and symptom management, and whether to try experimental therapies. They need someone who is trained to help them negotiate this thicket of issues during what is often the most difficult emotional period in their lives.”

In the wake of the Terri Schiavo and other highly publicized cases, there is a growing movement in health care to provide effective, timely and patient-centered end-of-life care. The University of Rochester Medical Center has been at the leading edge of this transformation. Five years ago, the Medical Center partnered with Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the Rochester Health Commission to form a Community-Wide End-of-Life/Palliative Care Initiative. This program, which has grown to include representatives from 40 different Rochester providers, businesses, consumers, insurers, and faith-based groups, is designed to improve, measure and increase access to care and lower costs for patients with life-threatening conditions.

“This is a shining example of a community coming together to find a way to get patients and their families the support they need,” said Quill. “We have made great strides in addressing the gaps in care, and I hope that this program can serve as a model for other community-wide partnerships.”

The AHA’s Circle of Life award, which is in its sixth year, recognizes innovative Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care programs. The award will be presented at the AHA’s annual conference in San Diego later this month. The AHA is the nation’s largest organization of hospitals and health care networks.

The AHA award is the latest is a series of distinctions for the University of Rochester Medical Center’s palliative care programs. Last month, the School of Nursing received a $1.4 million National Institute of Nursing research grant to study the delivery of palliative care in hospitals. Earlier this year, the Medical Center in collaboration with Visiting Nurse Service Hospice and Palliative Care received a $150,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation to study the effects of early intervention with home-based patients with advanced stages of cancer or congestive heart failure.

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