The Thomas Palliative Care program at VCU Massey Cancer Center earned a prestigious Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association for Massey’s model program that provides patient-centered palliative care to people with serious or terminal illnesses. The Massey program was one of three national award recipients from a field of more than 1,500 hospital-based palliative care programs.
Palliative care — a fast-growing form of care in the U.S. — aims to prevent and relieve suffering for patients who have life-limiting or terminal illnesses while providing emotional, physical, spiritual and practical support for patients and their families.
The Thomas Palliative Care Unit has 11 beds in a unique, home-like atmosphere, providing easy access to a wide variety of treatments and therapies throughout the VCU Medical Center. About 50 percent of its patients have cancer. Within the unit, a highly specialized, multidisciplinary team delivers a wide variety of services to patients including pain management, physical therapy, psychosocial counseling, financial and legal planning, spiritual counseling, pet and art therapy, massage and liberal family visitation.
Patrick Coyne, APN, the program’s clinical director says, “We can address all of a patient’s needs in hours, not days, and we involve their family in the decision-making process. More and more hospitals nationwide are recognizing that not only is this the right way to treat patients, but it’s cost-effective, too.”
The Circle of Life Award celebrates programs that contribute significantly to palliative and end-of-life care. The awards are supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and are sponsored by the American Hospital Association, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the American Medical Association and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
Massey also serves as the home base for the Palliative Care Leadership Training Program — one of eight designated sites in the country that provides training and mentorships on the operational aspects of starting and managing palliative care programs. Massey also offers hands-on training for Virginia health care professionals who would like to learn palliative care.