Press Release

Programs Bring Innovation to Palliative and End-Of-Life Care

Three programs that expand the reach of palliative and end-of-life care were recognized as the 2006 recipients of the Circle of Life Award.TM: Celebrating Innovation in End-of-Life Care.

Continuum Hospice Care in New York, N.Y.; Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, Minn.; and St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, Mich. will each receive $10,000 awards at a ceremony on July 14 in San Francisco.

“The Circle of Life Award celebrates programs across the nation that have made great strides in palliative and end-of-life care,” said AHA President Dick Davidson.  “These programs share overriding themes of compassion and dedication and find new ways to expand the reach of palliative and hospice services and to help mesh traditional medical care with good end-of-life care. They provide excellent models any community can adapt.”

This is the seventh year for the Circle of Life Award.TM The awards, supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are sponsored by the American Hospital Association in conjunction with the American Medical Association, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

Citations of Honor were awarded to Covenant Hospice, Inc. in Pensacola, Fla, a hospice which has a strong collaborative relationship with community and military hospitals, as well as providers at many other levels of care; VA New York Harbor Healthcare System in Brooklyn, N.Y. for leading the VA system in standardizing care processes and communication across settings and sites and innovatively using information technology and electronic medical records in palliative care delivery; Hospice of the Western Reserve Pediatric Program in Cleveland, Ohio, a pediatric program that exemplifies collaboration in a competitive environment, serving patients from all area hospital pediatric programs with a high level of physician engagement across those systems; and Barbara Ziegler Palliative Care Program at North Broward Hospital District in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for serving a high proportion of indigent and minority patients, with ongoing support through its weekly pain and symptom management clinic.

Highlights of the Circle of Life AwardTM programs:

Continuum Hospice Care - New York, N.Y.
A truly open access model, Continuum Hospice Care provides palliative care alongside curative care, relying on clinical indications that hospice care is appropriate rather than solely by a prognosis.  The hospice manages the complex care of its patients through a strong emphasis on communication and evidence-based medicine, combined with both emotional and psychological support.  Its integration into other parts of the organization has created seamless care for patients.  Additionally, Continuum uses sophisticated financial modeling to ensure its financial viability.

Fairview Health Services - Minneapolis, Minn.
Fairview Health Services has created a system-wide emphasis on palliative care that is focused on raising the standard of care and reducing suffering throughout the organization.  It is committed to letting services develop independently within the system, within the organization’s overall focus on palliative care.  Palliative care is provided in its academic center, smaller and rural facilities, hospice, home care, and skilled nursing facility—with a variety of models within the system.  Fairview has an emphasis on clinical services, education/research and community partnerships.  The organization has a sophisticated approach to diversity and cultural sensitivity and has developed specialized resources for children.

St. Joseph Mercy Oakland - Pontiac, Mich.
The palliative care program at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland has changed the standard of care and culture of the entire hospital—pain and suffering in any form is not acceptable.  The program is very broad scope including inpatient care, outpatient clinic, chronic pain control, home care bridge program and sickle-cell social support.  With the full participation of staff and leadership, the hospital’s work in palliative care expands and breaks new ground continually.  Examples of innovation include a perinatal program for early miscarriages and a stroke care model that includes palliative care. St. Joseph Mercy Oakland provides extensive assistance to other hospitals (including competitors) wishing to develop palliative care programs.

About the 2006 Circle of Life AwardTM

This year, about 50 nominations were received and reviewed by a selection committee that included leaders from medicine, nursing, social work and health administration.  The committee looked for programs that respect patient goals and preferences, provide comprehensive care, acknowledge and address the family or caregivers’ concerns and needs, and build systems and mechanisms of support that will ensure that the programs continue.  The programs selected serve as innovative models for other communities.  Click here for more information on the Circle of Life Award.

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

About AHA


Member Constituency Sections

Key Relationships

News Center

Performance Improvement

Advocacy Issues

Products & Services


Research & Trends


155 N. Wacker Dr.
Chicago, Illinois 60606

800 10th Street, N.W.
Two CityCenter, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20001-4956