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 will be recognized as the 2008 recipients of the Circle of Life Award®: Celebrating Innovation in End-of-Life Care, along with six others that were awarded citations of honor.

Children's Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn.; Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pa; and Haven Hospice in Gainesville, Fla. will each receive a Circle of Life Award at a ceremony on July 25 in San Diego.

"The Circle of Life award recognizes organizations that are focused on expanding the frontiers of palliative and end-of-life care, in terms of access and quality," said AHA President & CEO Rich Umbdenstock.  "These programs are striving to be there for patients and families every step of the way, with expertise, compassion, and assistance. A focus on choice and dignity help distinguish these programs and help serve as a model to others."

This is the ninth year for the Circle of Life Award.  The awards are supported in part by the California Healthcare Foundation, based in Oakland, Calif.  Major sponsors include the AHA, AARP, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the Catholic Health Association, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the National Hospice Foundation; the Center for Practical Bioethics is a Circle of Life cosponsor.

Citations of Honor were awarded to Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calf., which is developing a system-wide vision of palliative and end-of-life care; LifePath Hospice and Palliative Care in Tampa, Fla., which provides a broad spectrum of services and facilities that provides open access to those who do not yet fit the traditional definition of hospice care; Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., which has an extensive history of serving an inner city low-income population, while focusing on continuity of care in inpatient, long-term care and home settings; Rice Hospice in Willmar, Minn., which is a department of Rice Hospital and has a well developed and successful outreach program based on partnerships with the surrounding communities and their critical access hospitals; Sentara Health Care headquartered in Norfolk, Va., which has a system-wide approach to palliative and end-of-life care with strong links to the system's senior services programs; the Joint Palliative Care Programs for the UAB Center for Palliative Care and the Birmingham VA Palliative Care Program in Birmingham, Ala., which are a collaboration between the academic medical center and the veteran's hospital that shares medical staff, policies and protocols to best serve patients. 

Highlights of the Circle of Life Award programs

Children's Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota - St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn.
The Pain and Palliative Care Program of Children's Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota is a large pediatric health care provider that champions the special needs of children and their families through a host of innovative programs.  Through an interdisciplinary team of health care professionals that follows the needs of the family where ever they are receiving care, the program focuses on the relief of suffering and improving quality of life.  They do so by focusing on pain management and palliative care, end-of-life care, integrative medicine, and education of other health care providers. Children and families receive services from the time they first receive a life-threatening diagnosis.  The priority of Children's Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota is to provide family centered care and make sure patients and families are equal partners in that care.       
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia - Philadelphia, Pa.
The Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is a multidisciplinary team that provides palliative and end-of-life care to children with life limiting illnesses.  PACT's model of child-centered care focuses on maximizing the child's quality of life by involving and educating the patient, family, community (peers, schools and religious community) and caregivers.  As one of the nation's largest children's hospitals and pediatric health care networks, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's sophisticated program has a strong focus on research and education, which has enabled the palliative and end-of-life program to spread palliative care both throughout the institution and to other hospitals, hospices and the community they serve.

Haven Hospice - Gainesville, Fla.
Haven Hospice is a community-based not-for-profit hospice that serves 16 counties, which are mostly rural.  With four freestanding hospice care centers ranging from 12-18 beds and two designated inpatient units, Haven Hospice annually provides end-of-life, residential and respite care to more than 3,800 patients and families. Haven Hospice provides exacting attention to quality and process improvement and to extending palliative care to diverse communities.  Community outreach and professional/medical education are integral to this approach and promote access to care regardless of where a patient resides. 

This year, about 40 nominations were received and reviewed by a selection committee that included leaders from medicine, nursing, social work and health administration.  The committee site visited 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.  For more information on the Circle of Life Award, visit

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

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