The UW Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence, which includes Valley Medical Center’s Palliative Care program and the others in the UW MEdicine system, has received a Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association (AHA) in recognition of its role in serving people with life-limiting illness. This national award celebrates programs that have made great strides in palliative and end-of-life care. It will be presented at the AHA-Health Forum Leadership Summit on July 18 in San Diego.
Palliative care is specialized medical care focused on relieving patients’ symptoms, pain and stress stemming from a serious illness.
“Palliative care used to be equated with end-of-life care,” said Dr. Randy Curtis, the center’s director and a UW Medicine pulmonary and critical care specialist. “Now there’s this understanding that a lot of what we do in palliative care needs to start when people develop a serious illness. It can be emotional, it can be physical or spiritual; it can be very practical, like the mechanics of coordinating visits from multiple caregivers.”
Launched in 2012, the center extends access to palliative care within UW Medicine by building clinical programs and training teams of nurses, social workers, chaplains, pharmacists and doctors in how to deliver palliative care.
“Palliative care is a kind of specialty care that helps optimize the quality of life for patients with a serious illness and their families,” said Dr. Anthony Back, co-director of the center and UW Medicine oncologist.
In 2014, the center received a $10 million endowment from the Cambia Health Foundation and changed its name to the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence.