Catholic coalition expands, outlines goals for new year

Supportive Care of the Dying: A Coalition for Compassionate Care (SCD:CCC), a group of Catholic health systems formed to develop new models of community-based care for the dying, is growing. (See Hospice Management Advisor, October 1997, p. 118.) Joining its five existing hospital systems and the Catholic Health Association, six more systems have signed on in recent months. These include Catholic Healthcare Partners, Cincinnati; Providence Services, Spokane, WA; Sisters of Mercy Health System, St. Louis; SSM Health Care, St. Louis; St. Joseph Health System, Orange, CA; and Via Christi Health System, Wichita, KS.

Acting director Sylvia McSkimming, PhD, RN, based in Portland, OR, has been named as the coalition's executive director, while Patrick J. Cacchione, vice president, public policy and government affairs for Daughters of Charity National Health System in St. Louis, is the new board chairman. The organization has also identified goals for 1998, which include the following:

· clarify, communicate and implement a paradigm of compassionate care for the dying that integrates ethical, clinical and spiritual dimensions;

· conduct "open architecture meetings" on implementation strategies for member health systems;

· produce and disseminate a "Hints for Focus Groups" document to help member systems replicate SCD:CCC's focus group process;

· develop standardized educational programs in comfort care delivery for the caregiving community and the public at large;

· establish criteria and measurement standards for processes, outcomes, and methods of accountability for compassionate care services.

The coalition's current focus is on developing a professional mentor program due to findings from health professional focus groups and evidence that few physicians or other health professionals receive sufficient training in end-of-life issues. Alicia Super, RN, director of Supportive Care Research and Development Services for Providence Health System in Portland, OR, and former director of SCD:CCC, is designing the professional mentor program.

"We hope to teach physicians both clinical skills and the holistic behaviors that enable them to address physical, emotional, and spiritual issues," Super states in the January/February 1998 issue of Health Progress. The curriculum Super and colleagues hope to develop will integrate current academic knowledge with results from three new rounds of focus groups, the first of which began in January. Target date for completing the curriculum is June of 2000, at which point it will be offered to Catholic health systems nationwide. For more information, contact McSkimming at (503) 215-5053.