Leadership centers aim to boost palliative care

Six centers will provide hands-on training

The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) in New York City has launched a Palliative Care Leadership Center (PCLC) initiative to help health care organizations create programs to more effectively manage advanced chronic illness.

Under the initiative, health care teams are invited to visit one of six palliative care programs to receive hands-on training and technical assistance to fast track their own palliative care programs. In an early sign that the three-year initiative is addressing the growing demand for this type of training, more than 100 health care institutions already have registered to make visits, CAPC says.

Focus on relieving suffering

Palliative care is medical care focused on relief of suffering and support for the best possible quality of life for the growing number of patients facing advanced chronic illness.

That kind of care is offered at any stage of illness, simultaneous with all other appropriate medical treatment.

Palliative techniques have been shown to improve pain and symptom management, improve patient outcomes, and increase patient and family satisfaction, as well as facilitate compliance with pain management and quality accreditation standards.

Palliative care programs also improve continuity of care and reduce fragmentation of care delivery, contributing to efficient and effective use of health care resources.

The number of hospital-based palliative care programs has doubled in recent years to more than 950 in response to the critical need to provide high-quality care to seriously ill patients living with advanced chronic illness.

The PCLCs — located at academic medical centers, cancer centers, health systems, and community-based organizations — will provide visiting health care teams with expertise on the financial and operational dimensions of establishing a palliative care program.

That expertise includes:

  • hospital needs assessment;
  • financing and business planning;
  • how to choose organizational and service models;
  • staffing;
  • measuring clinical and financial impact;
  • strategies for ensuring and managing growth;
  • hospice-hospital collaborations;
  • marketing palliative care to clinicians and patients.

"The large number of health care organizations already participating in this initiative signals the increasing recognition that palliative care effectively addresses top health care concerns: quality improvement, the aging boom, and the need to manage patients with advanced chronic illness well," explains Diane E. Meier, MD, director of CAPC.

The six PCLCs are:

  • Fairview Health Services, Minneapolis;
  • Massey Cancer Center of Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, Richmond;
  • Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee;
  • Mount Carmel Health System, Columbus, OH;
  • Palliative Care Center of the Bluegrass, Lexington, KY;
  • University of California, San Francisco.

Funding provided by Robert Wood Johnson

The nationwide initiative is funded by a $4.5 million grant from the Princeton, NJ-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest U.S. philanthropic organization devoted exclusively to health and health care.

Technical assistance for the initiative is provided by the CAPC, located at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

The CAPC is a national initiative of the foundation, providing hospitals and other health care organizations with tools and technical assistance to develop hospital-based palliative care programs.

[For more information about palliative care and the Palliative Care Leadership Centers, go to: www.capc.org or call (212) 201-2670.

To register for a CAPC site visit, visit the web site or e-mail pclc@mssm.edu.]