Two programs recognized as 2020 Circle of Life Award honorees

WASHINGTON (July 16, 2020) – Two programs that expand the reach of palliative and end-of-life care will be honored with the 2020 Circle of Life Award. Now in its 21st year, the Circle of Life Award celebrates innovation in palliative and end-of-life care. This year’s winners, Caring Circle, Spectrum Health Lakeland, Saint Joseph, Mich.; and Choices and Champions, Novant Health, Winston-Salem, N.C., can serve as models for other health care organizations looking to add or expand palliative and end-of-life care.

In addition, two other organizations will be recognized. Four Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, Flat Rock, N.C., and the Nancy & Skippy Weinstein Inpatient Hospice and Palliative Care Center, Morristown Medical Center, Morristown, N.J., will receive Citations of Honor.

“This year’s honorees represent leaders who are committed to innovative and patient-centered palliative and end-of-life care,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “Whether by applying detailed patient assessment programs, developing strong community partnerships or expanding the use of electronic medical records to plan ahead, these programs give hope to patients and their families while raising the bar for the entire field.” 

Highlights of the Circle of Life Awards Programs

Caring Circle, Spectrum Health Lakeland – Saint Joseph, Mich.
Caring Circle, a community-based hospice and palliative care organization, strives to provide seamless transitions between primary care, inpatient and home-based palliative care and hospice care settings. The organization’s patient assessment program, called Transitions, helps patients and families clarify goals of care and identify and access community resources to meet their needs. A community bereavement center, Lory’s Place, provides peer support group services for grieving children and adults as well as school outreach and community education in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana.

Choices and Champions, Novant Health – Winston-Salem, N.C.
Choices and Champions®, Novant Health’s platform to transform care leading to end-of-life, centers around knowing and honoring patient wishes across the care continuum. A key feature of Choices and Champions is its system-wide commitment to normalize advance care planning starting at the first patient encounter. All adults at Novant Health’s more than 600 clinics are asked to choose a “Champion,” a trusted person to speak for them if unable to make their own medical decisions. The program also optimizes electronic medical records to allow all care team members to document and plan advance care services. A focus on having advance care planning conversations with hospitalized patients, then documenting those in the electronic medical record has enabled Novant Health to better know and honor their patients’ wishes. As the program has grown, Novant Health added palliative care at nine hospitals in addition to its two hospice programs, three inpatient hospice units and a residential hospice facility. Novant Health also sustains strong partnerships with community hospice and palliative organizations to provide home-based palliative care and has 12 business resource groups structured around common identities such as age, race, religion and sexual orientation to support diversity and inclusion strategies.

Circle of Life Citation of Honor will be presented to:

Four Seasons, The Care You Trust – Flat Rock, N.C.
Four Seasons provides a full continuum of services that include Care Navigation, Home Care, Palliative and Hospice Care as well as Grief Services and Clinical Research. Care is provided in private homes, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, hospitals, and inpatient hospice centers. Care is provided in person as well as virtually, throughout the communities of western North Carolina. Four Seasons is one in less than five nonprofit palliative and hospice organizations in the nation participating in clinical research trials: further showing the organization’s dedication to innovation. Through the Four Seasons Foundation, care is made possible for anyone regardless of their ability to pay, new resources are made available to advance care and more moments are made possible at the end of life. Four Seasons is a founding member of Teleios Collaborative Network, a group of nonprofit hospices that share back-office services and other infrastructure. Teleios currently has members representing organizations across five states.

Weinstein Hospice & Palliative Center, Morristown Medical Center – Morristown, N.J.
The Weinstein Hospice & Palliative Center at Morristown Medical Center offers a variety of palliative and hospice care services, including inpatient hospice and palliative care, outpatient palliative care in the medical center’s cancer program and primary care practice, and home-based hospice and palliative/supportive care through Atlantic Visiting Nurse. The Nurse Resiliency Project promotes team and individual wellness through conversations, art workshops and mentoring. The Weinstein Center also trains nurses and staff on primary palliative care and provides education to the community.

The 2020 Circle of Life Awards: Celebrating Innovation in Palliative and End-of-Life Care are supported, in part, by a grant from the Cambia Health Foundation, based in Portland, Ore. Major sponsors of the 2020 awards are the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Health Association, and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and 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, and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation; and the National Association of Social Workers.

Circle of Life Award Criteria
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 meeting critical needs and serve as sustainable, replicable models for a segment of the field.
  • Pursue quality improvement consistent with the National Consensus Project (NCP) 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, psycho-social 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.
  • Use metrics that demonstrate significant impact and value for individuals, families and communities.


Contact:       Marie Johnson, 202-626-2351,
                     Sean Barry, 202-626-2306,

About the American Hospital Association
The American Hospital Association (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 advocates on behalf of our nearly 5,000 member hospitals, health systems and other health care organizations, our clinician partners – including more than 270,000 affiliated physicians, 2 million nurses and other caregivers – and the 43,000 health care leaders who belong to our professional membership groups. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides insight and 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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