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News & Events

Palliative Care Social Worker Provides Virtual Comfort to Help Patients and Families Stay Connected

April 24, 2020

Melissa Christodaro, LMSW, joined by other URMC clinicians, highlights the values of "virtual comfort" through the use of iPads to the well-being of the patient as well as the provider in this WXXI News interview.

ACT Program Sessions Now Available On Zoom

April 20, 2020

Thomas Carroll, M.D., Ph.D. and Robert Horowitz, M.D. have quickly adapted Palliative Care division's Advanced Communication Training (ACT) Course from an intensive 2-day immersion experience into a series of 45 minute sessions for rapid dissemination leveraging the Zoom platform. Each session includes tips and scripts for difficult and unprecedented conversations around the COVID pandemic. Offered several times a week, these session provide clinicians from all disciplines across the UR Medicine system the opportunity to learn core communication skills, including how to convey bad news both clearly and compassionately, explore patient and families values, and arrive at a patient- and family-centered plan of care.

View the schedule of sessions.

Rob Horowitz Speaks about How to Approach Difficult Conversations for COVID-19 Patients

April 14, 2020

As hospitals continue to treat COVID-19 cases, providers are faced with having tough conversations with critically ill patients. "It's hard to give bad news, and so practicing giving very explicit bad news compassionately is what we do," said Palliative Care's Robert Horowitz, M.D., in this this WXXI interview.

In Memorium

Laura Hogan, a URMC Senior Nurse Practitioner who epitomized the Nursing profession she loved and lived for nearly 40 years, died on Thursday August 22, 2019.

Laura was drawn to nursing from a young age, moved by a yearning to ease others’ suffering. Fresh out of high school she pursued an Associates Degree in Nursing at SUNY Morrisville. After graduating in 1980 she worked at Newark Wayne Community Hospital, and then moved to Strong Memorial Hospital, where she worked continuously for over thirty years in a variety of medical and surgical settings. In 1986 she joined the Pain Treatment Center, where she worked as a nurse coordinator. During her 10 years there she earned her BSN from Alfred and then her Masters from University of Rochester, achieving her professional goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner in 1997. She earned the rank of Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing in 2006.

In 2005, deeply drawn to the emerging field of palliative care, Laura became the second Nurse Practitioner in URMC’s new Palliative Care Program. She joined Dr. Timothy Quill and NP Marcia Buckley, and was integral to the Program’s development and approach to care of seriously ill patients and their families. Laura remained with Palliative Care for the duration of her career, helping the Program grow and achieve national renown. She helped shepherd it to becoming the first academic medical center to earn Joint Commission Advanced Certification in Palliative Care in 2011.

To expand her spiritual and mindful capacity in providing care, Laura pursued intensive training in “Being with Dying” under the guidance of Roshi Joan Halifax in New Mexico last Spring. She described this experience as transformative, one which deepened her inner life and her recognition and capacity to communicate about the finitude of life. Little did she know at the time how critical this training would be for her personally: just months later she was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. She pursued the complicated and difficult treatment with grace, grit and gratitude, including chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Then last month she suffered a severe relapse, which ended her life.

Dr. Timothy Quill, a world expert in palliative care, founding director of URMC’s Palliative Care Program, and Laura’s close friend and colleague, said of her, “Laura was a consummate teacher and role model in all aspects of her life, including the unexpected and tragic turn of fate when she was diagnosed with leukemia. She continued to be a role model, leader and compassionate caregiver to herself and others even as she faced the end of her life.”

Throughout her career Laura received numerous awards and honors, including the URMC Hero Fund Award (2009), Recognition of Service Award 30 Years URMC (2012), Patient and Family-Centered ICARE Award (2012), and 15 Strong Star Recognitions (2007-2016). She offered innumerable presentations to nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians and others at URMC, regionally, nationally and internationally, focusing on the nuts and bolts of pain management, patient and family education, interprofessional education, religion and spirituality in palliative care, team dynamics, communication skills, and self-care, among many other subjects.

Laura was particularly proud to be a co-developer and facilitator, along with Drs. Tom Carroll and Rob Horowitz, of URMC’s Advanced Communication Training (ACT) program. ACT is a 2-day interdisciplinary course to enrich clinician skills in serious illness conversations utilizing patient-actors, which has been completed by more than 100 URMC clinicians since Laura first co-facilitated it in early 2018. During her recent and final hospitalization, Laura recounted with delight how she learned about her leukemia relapse from two oncologists who credited ACT for their skill in delivering the bad news to her. She thanked them for their gracious and compassionate communication, and then informed them—no doubt, with great humility—of her role in ACT’s development. She said with tears in her eyes that they thanked her, with tears in their eyes, for being their teacher.

URMC’s Palliative Care Program dedicated its 4th Joint Commission recertification site visit last Thursday to Laura, just hours before she died. Dr. Robert Horowitz, Chief of the division, reflected on her influence. “Laura helped so many of us, in ways subtle and profound, become the healers and humans we are. And so it felt particularly right when our Joint Commission surveyor shared unbridled enthusiasm about our amazing team, community and Program. This is Laura’s award.”

Laura is survived by her father, Joseph (dear friend, Suzette Nadeau); sons, Daniel, Michael (Alicia) and Andrew; brother, David (Sarah); cousin, Marie (Rob) Marut; and loving partner, Geoffrey Williams, MD, PhD.

Norton Chosen to Lead SON Research Mission

Apr 15, 2019

Sally Norton, a nationally recognized expert in palliative care research, has been named the new associate dean for research at the University of Rochester School of Nursing.

Listening to Family Stories Helps Cancer Researchers Identify Gaps in Care

Mar 27, 2019

Families of cancer patients described three distinct experiences — “We Pretty Much Knew,” “Beating the Odds,” and “Left to Die” — in the final weeks of their loved one’s life. Wilmot Cancer Institute researchers gathered these valuable perspectives, identified the problems, and plan to use the data for improving care at this difficult and emotionally charged time.