Press Release

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

Two programs that expand the reach of palliative and end-of-life care will be honored with the 2017 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 18th year, celebrates programs across the nation that have made great strides in palliative and end-of-life care. The AHA and partners also will award three other programs a Citation of Honor.

Bluegrass Care Navigators, Lexington, Ky.; and Providence TrinityCare Hospice & TrinityKids CareProvidence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance and the Providence Institute for Human Caring, all of Torrance, Calif., will each receive the award at a ceremony on July 28 in San Diego. Citations of Honor will be presented to LifeCourse-Allina Health, Minneapolis, Minn.; Midland Care Connection, Topeka, Kan.; and University of Wisconsin Palliative CareMadison, Wis.

“This year’s Circle of Life honorees have done incredible work incorporating palliative and end-of-life care into all aspects of care. Our members are showing that palliative care services go beyond the four walls of a hospital. They are provided in specialty clinics, outpatient centers and in a patient’s home — and increasingly as part of a coordinated continuum of service,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack.

Highlights of the Circle of Life Award programs:

Bluegrass Care Navigators – Lexington, Ky.

The organization – formerly Hospice of the Bluegrass — sees its role as creating care continuity and has established a broad foothold across the continuum in palliative and end-of-life care, and further upstream with transitions, complex care management and readmissions. That includes working with hospitals/systems, nursing homes, medical groups, other hospices, health plans, home care, churches and neighborhood organizations. Bluegrass Care Navigators aims to move care into the community, creating and aligning services from different ownerships. Through the strength and diversity of the community and provider partnerships, the organization is able to take a strategic and thoughtful approach to innovative care. By sharing experiences and learning opportunities with other rural and smaller hospices, Bluegrass Care Navigators is constantly improving care.

Providence TrinityCare Hospice & TrinityKids Care, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance and Providence Institute for Human Caring – Torrance, Calif.

Instead of solely setting up a comprehensive inpatient and outpatient palliative care program for adults and children, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance and Providence TrinityCare Hospice collaborated with the Providence Institute for Human Caring to provide “whole-person care” to every patient – essentially embedding the principles of palliative care throughout its system. Providence believes there is no reason to limit the tenets of palliative care to patients with life-threatening illnesses if others can also benefit from having a more highly personalized approach to their emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual needs, in addition to receiving best-in-class medical treatment. Providence seeks to have an advance directive on the chart before a patient goes to surgery – even for relatively minor procedures. The collaborative focuses on the values, preferences and priorities of patients and their families, and is able to use a data-driven and metrics-backed approach to help replicate holistic care across the seven-state healthcare system.

Citations of Honor will be presented to:

  • LifeCourse/Allina Health, Minneapolis, Minn., for its use of lay care guides to move important discussions out of the medical arena and into the home — with long-term relationships lasting on average 19 months — to work with individuals and families in determining and being able to articulate their needs and care goals.
  • Midland Care Connection, Topeka, Kan., for its work, since its inception, as a needs-responsive organization. Over the past 40 years serving both an urban and rural population, Midland Care has advanced palliative care not only as a philosophy throughout the broad continuum of community-based services it provides but as a specialty program for those challenged with suffering and pain. Midland Care has developed partnerships with both local hospitals, including inpatient and outpatient consult services, as wells as a clinic and community palliative care program. The innovation shown by the board and staff of Midland Care has set them apart as a leader in care for the dying and the frail.
  • UW Health Palliative Care Program, Madison, Wis., for its innovative work in communication and skills training, including employing professional actors to interact with health care practitioners, an Empathy card game developed by palliative care residents, and Best Case Worse Case diagrams that help health care professionals explain possible outcomes to patients and families.

The 2017 awards are supported, in part, by grants from the California Health Care Foundation, based in Oakland, Calif., and the Cambia Health Foundation, based in Portland, Ore.. Major sponsors of the 2017 awards are the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Health Association, and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization & 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 AwardÔ 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 AwardÔ 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, particularly for marginalized populations;
  • 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;
  • 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

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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