Circle of Life Awards Honor Innovative Palliative and End-Of-Life Care

Three Programs Recognized as Circle of Life Award® Honorees


WASHINGTON (July 10, 2018) — Three programs that expand the reach of palliative and end-of-life care will be honored with the 2018 Circle of Life Award®, along with three programs that will be awarded a Citation of Honor. The Circle of Life Award®, now in its 19th year, celebrates innovative organizations and programs across the nation that have made great strides in palliative and end-of-life care.


Hospice of the Valley, Phoenix, Ariz; Western Connecticut Health Network, Danbury, Conn.; and Penn Wissahickon Hospice and Caring Way, Philadelphia, Pa., will each receive the award at a ceremony on July 27 in San Diego. Citations of Honor will be presented to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Omaha, Neb.; Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Fla.; and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah.


“This year’s honorees demonstrate that the needs of patients and their families can be met at home and in other community settings to ensure that the best possible care is provided across the care spectrum,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack.These innovative programs address critical needs that help patients best manage their health care needs.”


Highlights of the Circle of Life Award® programs


Hospice of the Valley, Arizona Palliative Home Care Program – Phoenix, Ariz.


Hospice of the Valley has created a comprehensive continuum of home-based primary care, palliative services and hospice care to support changing health care needs. This program seeks to improve quality of life for chronically ill and medically fragile patients. The program partners with payers, community physicians, hospitals, and health systems identifying individuals at high risk for hospitalizations and providing care coordination for those with chronic illnesses including dementia, lung disease, heart disease and cancer. Results have shown not only an increase in patient satisfaction, but a significant cost savings due to a reduction in unnecessary hospitalizations. The staff collaborates with community physicians, group homes and assisted living facilities to ensure all who need care receive it.


Penn Wissahickon Hospice and Caring Way, Penn Medicine – Philadelphia, Pa.

Penn Medicine, within its complex delivery system and academic medical centers, provides patients with compassionate palliative and end-of-life care. Penn Wissahickon Hospice and Caring Way are fully integrated into the University of Pennsylvania Health System to build a meaningful continuum of care for seriously ill patients. Penn Wissahickon Hospice is a learning organization eager to take on challenges, using systematic, evidence-based approaches to improve and expand palliative and end-of-life care. Working as part of the system’s innovation grants and rapid cycle improvement process, the hospice and palliative care service has taken on COPD, heart failure and home care for frail elderly – with innovative technology, precise use of data and the ability to explain how hospice and palliative care tie to Penn’s underlying academic mission.


Palliative Care, Western Connecticut Health Network – Danbury, Conn.

Western Connecticut Health Network has spread palliative care throughout its entire network, from inpatient units to primary care offices, demonstrating that community hospitals can provide sophisticated palliative care to seriously ill patients and their families. In less than a decade, Western Connecticut’s palliative care program has grown from a small team at Danbury Hospital to reaching patients across its continuum of care, including home care, nursing homes, cancer center outpatients, and in the offices of primary care physicians and pulmonologists. This rapid growth and spread was encouraged by the organization’s supportive leadership and efforts to educate staff and clinicians on the essentials of palliative care. More than 200 front-line nursing staff have been trained in ELNEC palliative care methods, along with all the hospitalists and about half of the network’s primary care workforce that have been trained in generalist palliative care. The organization uses its electronic health record system to flag high-risk patients for a palliative consult and maintain goals of care decision documents that remain accessible to care providers throughout the network.


Citations of Honor will be presented to:


  • Rainbow Kids, Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah, for its innovative community-building outreach to families. Rainbow Kids consists of a multidisciplinary team that consults throughout the hospital while providing inpatient pediatric palliative care with the message: children’s and family’s wishes and needs come first.


  • Department of Supportive Care Medicine, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Fla., for integrating comprehensive palliative care into the support of cancer patients throughout the spectrum of care. The Supportive Care team members have collaborated with specialists to embed palliative care in more than 30 clinical care pathways at Moffitt. They help build their colleagues’ primary palliative skills and take on palliative communications and symptom control for their sickest patients. With the support of hospital leadership, supportive care has been included as an integral part of the cancer center’s ongoing plan for personalized care.


  • Hand in Hand Palliative Care, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Omaha, Neb., for its devoted support for seriously ill patients and their families from diagnosis through end of life and beyond and for Hand in Hand’s efforts to reach families throughout a multi-state, largely rural area. The program aims to overcome economic disparities and create equal access to care. Hand in Hand’s culture is family-focused, with the voice of the child and family members guiding care choices.


The 2018 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 2018 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 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, 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




Gabriella Valentine, (202) 626-2264

Arika Trim, (202) 626-2319




About the American Hospital Association (AHA)

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the improvement of health in their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care. 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




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