Circle of Life Award recipients bring innovation to palliative and end-of-life care

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Three programs that expand the reach of palliative and end-of-life care will be honored with the 2016 Circle of Life Award™: Celebrating Innovation in Palliative and End-of-Life Care, along with three programs awarded a Citation of Honor. The Circle of Life Award™, now in its 17th year, celebrates programs across the nation that have made great strides in palliative and end-of-life care.

Bon Secours Palliative Medicine, Richmond, Va.; Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence at the University of Washington, Seattle; and Susquehanna Health, Williamsport, Pa., will each receive the award at a ceremony on July 18 in San Diego.

Citations of Honor will be presented to Memorial Hermann Physician Network and Symptom Management Consultants, Houston; Meridian Health Palliative Care Service, Neptune, N.J.; and OSF Supportive Care, Peoria, Ill.

“This year’s Circle of Life honorees have made great advancements in incorporating palliative and end-of-life care into all aspects of care, from primary to specialty, and into the community,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “We are honored to recognize these organizations, which have found new ways to work innovatively with compassion and dedication for their patients and communities.”   

Highlights of the Circle of Life Award™ programs

Bon Secours Palliative Medicine – Richmond, Va.

Covering the five hospital subsystem of Bon Secours, the palliative care program follows patients and their families wherever they receive treatment, including hospitals, nursing homes, primary care practices and their own homes. As part of the medical group, it uses primary and specialty palliative care as cornerstones of the program and is involved in innovative delivery and payment models. Interdisciplinary teams focus strong attention on the psychological and social needs of patients and families, as well as staff. The program also is involved with the community and two other local systems in embedding advance care discussions into primary care practices.

Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence, University of Washington – Seattle

The Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence (Center) serves four hospitals, including academic medical centers and community hospitals; 12 neighborhood clinics, a clinic involved in homeless outreach; 14 assisted living facilities; a house call program; and several partnerships. The Center focuses on implementing cutting-edge education and research on palliative care into clinical practice. With a strong commitment to promoting both primary and specialty palliative care, it has adapted new care delivery models over a variety of provider and community settings. The Center has developed and implemented palliative care quality metrics to assess and improve the palliative care it delivers across the health care system and also incorporates cultural mediators to help foster greater understanding of patient and family needs for those from other cultures.  

Susquehanna Health Hospice and Palliative CareWilliamsport, Pa.

Susquehanna Health encompasses four hospitals as well as long-term care facilities, home care and other services. The hospice and palliative care program addresses palliative care system-wide in all settings and in the community, which stretches over a broad rural area.  Hallmarks of the program include its relationships with long-term care facilities to monitor and improve palliative and end-of-life care; cultural sensitivity to religiously and socially conservative communities; and commitment to education and training.

Citations of Honor will be presented to:

  • Memorial Hermann Physician Network and Symptom Management Consultants, Houston, for their integrated partnerships, including academic settings and community hospices as well as collaborative leadership efforts in improving quality of care.
  • Meridian Health Palliative Care Service, Neptune, N.J., for its innovations in new delivery structures and payment models with a focus on community-based and long-term care and advance care planning education for its community. 
  • OSF Supportive Care, Peoria, Ill., for its focus on spreading and standardizing advanced care planning conversations and documentation, and assuring patient and family goals are communicated and implemented across care delivery settings.

“These programs serve as models for us all as we move forward in our shared goal of providing the highest quality of care for all those facing serious and life-limiting illness,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “All of us at NHPCO and the National Hospice Foundation celebrate their accomplishments.”

The 2016 awards are supported, in part, by grants from the California Health Care Foundation, based in Oakland, Calif., and the Cambia Health Foundation. Major sponsors of the 2016 awards are the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Health Association, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), and the National Hospice Foundation.

The awards are cosponsored by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the Center to Advance Palliative Care, the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center, the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation, and the National Association of Social Workers. The Circle of Life Award™ program is administered by the Health Research & Educational Trust.

Circle of Life Award™ nominations were reviewed and site-visited by a selection committee that included leaders from medicine, nursing, social work and health administration. The Circle of Life Award™ honors palliative programs that:

  • Serve people with life-limiting illness, their families and their communities;
  • Demonstrate effective, patient/family-centered, timely, safe, efficient and equitable palliative and end-of-life care;
  • Use innovative approaches to meet critical needs and serve as sustainable, replicable models for a segment of the field;
  • Pursue quality improvement consistent with the National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, NHPCO Standards of Practice for Hospice Programs or other widely-accepted standards, within their resources and capabilities;
  • Address medical, psychosocial, spiritual and cultural needs throughout the disease trajectory;
  • Use innovative approaches to reach traditionally marginalized populations;
  • Actively partner with other health care organizations, education and training programs, the community, providers of care, and/or insurers; and
  • Use metrics that demonstrate significant impact and value for individuals, families and communities.

For more information on the Circle of Life Award™, visit

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