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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston has been chosen as a "national
learning lab" that other hospitals across the nation can consult with
to improve their palliative (end-of-life) care programs.
Dana-Farber joins just six other facilities across the U.S. chosen by
the Hospital-Based Palliative Care Consortium (HBPCC) to be learning
labs. Hospitals and health systems interested in implementing or
improving their palliative-care services can now also learn "best
practices" on-site from Dana-Farber, which has been recognized for
possessing exemplary palliative-care services.
Sponsored by the American Hospital Association's Health Research and
Educational Trust (HRET), and locally by the Massachusetts Hospital
Association (MHA), the Hospital-Based Palliative Care Consortium is
funded by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
"Helping patients and their families deal with end-of-life issues is
extraordinarily complex and oftentimes emotionally draining," said Lynn
Nicholas, FACHE, MHA's president and CEO. "Even experienced caregivers
often struggle with palliative care. The effect on patients is, of
course, even greater. The benefit to both caregivers and patients from
sharing proven, end-of-life best practices through Dana-Farber is clear,
and I'm grateful that MHA and a member hospital is able to demonstrate
leadership in this area."
The creation of "learning labs" to assist all hospitals improve their
palliative care coincides with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' focus
on this area. The commonwealth's Health Care Quality & Cost Council
— created under the Health Care Reform Law (Chapter 58) — has set as
one of its 2008 goals improving end-of-life care at Massachusetts
The HBPCC program, which is offered at no cost to participants, is
divided into three phases. Before a day-long visit to the learning lab,
participants receive preliminary materials, including the HBPCC
curriculum and questions designed to assess their hospital's strengths
and weaknesses. The learning lab hospital also contacts participants to
review materials, identify the particular needs of their hospital, and
set specific goals for the site visit. Once at the learning lab,
participants interact with experienced staff and observe best-practices
in a real-world setting. As participants implement palliative-care
programs in their own hospitals, HBPCC support continues. A Web site
provides information, announcements, a CD-ROM, and other tools and
resources. An electronic listserv facilitates networking among
participating hospitals, learning labs, and HBPCC staff.
"HBPCC has been strengthened by the welcome addition of Dana-Farber
as a new learning lab," said John Combes, principal investigator for
HBPCC and interim president of HRET. "We are pleased to be partnering
with the Massachusetts Hospital Association to offer palliative care
professionals nationwide expanded access to expert knowledge, technical
assistance, and networking support."
Dana-Farber was selected for their long and diverse history in the
palliative care arena. Since 1997, the Pediatric Advanced Care Team
(PACT) has provided palliative care for children treated at Dana-Farber
and Children's Hospital Boston. Care strategies are intended to optimize
the quality of life and promote healing and comfort for children with
life-threatening illness. Additionally, the Pain and Palliative Care
service developed between Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women's Hospital
(BWH) has been providing palliative care services since 2001. The
consultation service sees outpatients at Dana-Farber and inpatients at
BWH, who have cancer or an advanced life-limiting disease other than
cancer. Since 2007, the service also has had primary responsibility for
cancer patients admitted to Dana-Farber's Intensive Palliative Care Unit
team at BWH.
"We are very pleased to join the Hospital-based Palliative Care
Consortium as a resource for other hospitals that want to implement
palliative care programs,' said Janet Abrahm, MD, director of the Pain
and Palliative Care Program at Dana-Farber. "The support for this
program from the Health Research Educational Trust confirms that
palliative care programs are crucial to delivering the best quality of
care to the patients and their families."
"Palliative care is a difficult, ever-evolving area on which all
hospitals must focus," said Pat Noga, MHA's senior director of Clinical
Affairs. "But through the Hospital-Based Palliative Care Consortium —
and the proven, compassionate excellence of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
— the difficult can become easier and the benefit to patients and their
families is incalculable."
For more information about this program visit www.hret.org/hret/programs/paloverview.html or contact Deb Bohr at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (646) 678-4280.
The Massachusetts Hospital Association is a voluntary, not-for-profit
organization comprised of hospitals and health systems, related
organizations, and other members with a common interest in promoting the
health of the people of the Commonwealth. Through leadership in public
advocacy, education, and information, MHA represents and advocates for
the collective interests of its member hospitals and health systems, and
supports their efforts to provide high quality, cost effective, and
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.org)
is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is
among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States.
It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center
(DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National
Founded in 1944, the Health Research & Educational Trust (www.hret.org)
is a private, not-for-profit organization involved in research,
education, and demonstration programs addressing health management and
policy issues. An affiliate of the American Hospital Association, HRET
collaborates with health care, government, academic, business, and
community organizations across the United States to conduct research and
disseminate findings that shape the future of health care.