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The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) hosted its annual Hospice Leadership Awards in September 2003, in conjunction with the 18th Management and Leadership Conference in Phoenix, AZ. More than 1,300 hospice executive directors, medical directors, financial officers, managers, trainers, industry representatives, and other professionals attended NHPCO's conference focusing on leadership and the future of hospice and palliative care.
Presented in conjunction with the National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals (NHCPP), NHPCO's membership division, the leadership awards were created to acknowledge outstanding work in the field of end-of-life care and recognize programs and professionals that have made significant contributions in the areas of care delivery, education, innovation, and research.
Awards presented included the Heart of Hospice Award, NHPCO's Founders Award, the NCHPP Award of Excellence in Education, and the NHPCO Person of the Year Award.
The 2003 Heart of Hospice Award recognizes NCHPP members who have attained repeated outstanding achievements in hospice and have made an impact beyond hospice and was given to:
* Emil Zuberbueler, BS, VistaCare, Scottsdale, AZ
* Gretchen Brown, MSW, Hospice of the Bluegrass, Lexington, KY
NHPCO's Founders Award recognizes individuals of national or international stature who have evidenced a pioneering spirit in opening the frontiers of heathcare and hospice. Recipients were:
* Betty D. Shepperd, RN, Wilmar, MN
* Sarah Gorodezky, MA, Hospice of the Napa Valley, Napa, CA
* Ann M. MacGregor, Mason City, IA
NCHPP Awards of Excellence for Education honor outstanding programs that are innovative and serve as models for other organizations. Programs receiving the award were:
* Public Education Program for Patients and Families: Caregiving at Life's End, a program of the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, Largo, FL
* Program Designed to Increase Access to Hospice and Palliative Care: Building the Bridge: Transitioning Cardio-Pulmonary Patients from a Chronically Ill Status to End-of-Life Care, Hospice of the Western Reserve, Cleveland, OH
* Public Education Program Concerning End-of-Life Issues: Rallying Points Regional Resource Center, The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, Largo, FL
* Program Designed for Hospice/Palliative Care Staff and/or Volunteers: Care Giving at the End of Life, West Georgia Hospice/Hospice LaGrange Team, LaGrange, GA
NHPCO's Person of the Year is a true supporter of the Hospice Cause, giving above and beyond what is required or expected and has made special contributions to the benefit of hospice and palliative care, but the person is not a paid hospice or palliative care professional. Rather, the recipient brings the hospice concept to the public in a special way, such as through the media, celebrity status, or stature in business, Congress, or another field, and is nominated and selected by the NHPCO Board. This year's recipient was Joseph F. O'Neill, MD, MS, MPH, Deputy Coordinator of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, Washington, DC.
The role of hospice and palliative care is a critical component of response as the AIDS pandemic continues to grow, and Dr O'Neill encouraged the type of ongoing development of innovative care delivery for which hospice is recognized.
Five community-based coalitions in Missouri, North Carolina, California, Massachusetts, and Maine have received Community Coalitions Awards of Excellence from Rallying Points, an initiative of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Rallying Points, which fosters effective local coalitions addressing end-of-life care, presented these first-ever awards to each group with $15,000 at the Rallying Points' 2nd Annual Conference in Boston, MA, November 2003.
Three Awards of Excellence were given on a regional basis, recognizing one coalition from each of the 3 Rallying Points regions. Groups cited for their regional work are:
* Midwest region: The Community Alliance for Compassionate Care at the End of Life, Springfield, MO, for uniting healthcare professionals, educators, religious, business leaders, and concerned citizens in the greater Ozarks to promote awareness and delivery of better end-of-life care.
* Eastern region: The Community Partnership for End-of-Life Care, Winston-Salem, NC, for a community-wide effort to encourage conversations about end-of-life care. Led by the Hospice and Palliative Care Center in Forsyth County, this coalition involves healthcare professionals and healthcare systems, faith community leaders, human service agency leaders, patients, and families.
* Western region: The Santa Cruz County End-of-Life Coalition, Aptos, CA, for bringing together 80 coalition members from 30 diverse organizations to increase awareness and acceptance of death as a natural part of life.
The Carolinas Center for Hospice and End-of-Life Care, Cary, NC, received a "statewide" Award of Excellence for its achievements as an outstanding statewide coalition. The center's vision, leadership, and resources promote high-quality care beginning before an illness is diagnosed and continuing through a serious illness and after a death occurs. This care includes advance care planning, palliative care, hospice, and bereavement care.
The "emerging coalition" Award of Excellence was given to the Central Massachusetts Partnership to Improve Care at the End of Life, Worcester, MA, for its work to ensure that all Central Massachusetts residents live their last days as comfortably as possible in the setting of their choice, according to their wishes.
Special mention in the awards competition was also given to The Jason Program, Saco, ME. This program provides medical, emotional, and spiritual support to critically ill and dying children and their families throughout Maine.
Recipients were selected for their achievements in 4 areas:
* identifying community needs for better care at the end of life;
* acting as advocates for health system changes bringing about better care at the end of life;
* developing and implementing specific projects to improve end-of-life care; and
* providing guidance to new and emerging coalitions through mentoring.
Coalitions were selected by an expert review committee evaluating each applicant's success in areas such as setting an agenda for community change, working with partners or community leaders, showing results, establishing elements of a lasting presence in the community, and being capable of mentoring other coalitions in similar advocacy work.
The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (KCMU) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) recently released a new online database outlining Medicaid benefits in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US territories. The Medicaid program is funded jointly by both federal and state governments and administered within federal guidelines by individual states, which allows states flexibility in designing their own benefits packages, subject to certain minimum requirements. To better understand the Medicaid program's flexibility and varied services for eligible populations at a state level, the database provides practical information about benefits covered in each state, including long-term care and hospice benefits. For example, under the category of hospice care the site lists state-by-state whether the hospice benefit is covered, which populations are covered, and whether a copayment and/or prior approval is required. It also lists coverage limitations and reimbursement methodology. The database is searchable by Medicaid benefit, as well as by state.
KCMU will be releasing an overview report discussing the major findings and themes from the survey. To learn more about KCMU's work on Medicaid, call the foundation at 202-347-5270, or visit the Web site http://www.kff.org and click on the Medicaid link in the left sidebar.
The database is accessible to the public on the Kaiser Family Foundation Web site at: http://www.kff.org/medicaidbenefits/.
The American Alliance of Cancer Pain Initiatives (AACPI) has released a formal position statement on Intractable Pain Treatment Acts (IPTAs). The statement is designed to provide guidance as states consider adopting or modifying IPTAs, which focus on protecting physicians who treat patients with "intractable pain." Although the Acts are intended to protect physicians from inappropriate disciplinary actions, there are often problematic elements, and the AACPI does not support the adoption of additional IPTAs in the states, instead suggesting consideration of other approaches. However, if faced with such legislation, the AACPI position statement outlines several issues that should be given careful consideration, including the definition of intractable pain, protection for healthcare professionals who are not physicians, and consultation requirements. AACPI encourages state pain initiatives and other advocates to work with their state regulatory and licensing agencies and policymakers to pursue nonlegislative alternatives.
The position statement is available on the AACPI Web site http://www.aacpi.org/regulatory/IPTA.pdf.
In addition, "Promoting Pain Relief and Preventing Abuse of Pain Medications: A Critical Balancing Act," a consensus statement fostered by AACPI, Last Acts, the US Drug Enforcement Agency and 20 other leading health organizations, speaks to the need for healthcare professionals and law enforcement to work together to prevent prescription pain medication abuse while ensuring that these medications remain available for patients in need. It is available on the Last Acts Web site at http://www.lastacts.org/files/resources/consensus.pdf.
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