NASW co-sponsors Circle of Life awards

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

NASW was once again a co-sponsor of the Circle of Life awards, which honor and celebrate innovation in palliative and end-of-life care.

Other sponsors of the July award ceremony in San Diego were the American Hospital Association, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, National Hospice Foundation and the Catholic Health Association.

The award winners for 2013 were:

• Denver Hospice. The organization was noted for its interest in partnering with a variety of organizations, including Kaiser Permanente and the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was also praised for creating separate grief centers for adults and children, developing a bilingual team to care for the Hispanic population and for producing information sheets for family caregivers.

• Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. The institute was singled out for including residents, fellows and attending physicians with the palliative care team. The team focuses attention on the needs of the family as well as the patient. Since 1997, the institute has been a leader in collecting research and clinical data to help develop and refine services.

• Unity Point Health in Iowa and Illinois. The organization developed a unified system that delivers a model of care across its 280 physician clinics, seven home health care organizations and 26 hospitals in Iowa and Illinois. Among the unified system’s benefits are palliative care services that follow the patient across the care continuum.

As a Circle of Life co-sponsor, NASW is represented on the awards selection committee by a member in the field. NASW member Sherri Weisenfluh served on the 2013 awards selection committee. She recently retired as the associate clinical officer in counseling at Hospice of the Bluegrass in Lexington, Ky.

She said she enjoyed serving on the committee as it was an opportunity to learn about the best programs in the nation. The committee looked for programs that have a commitment to excellence and innovation.

“I along with other committee members looked at staffing ratios, advanced certifications and credentials and commitment to serving diverse populations,” Weisenfluh said.

“The growth and diversity of programs is amazing,” she added. “Hospital-based palliative care programs have seen tremendous growth that translates into better care for the sickest patients in the United States. Hospices continue to innovate and create unique ways to support dying patients. Making site visits to such programs is exciting.”

NASW member Stacy Orloff, vice president of Palliative Care and Community Programs at Suncoast Hospice in Florida, has been selected to serve on the 2014 awards selection committee.

NASW California Chapter Executive Director Janlee Wong attended this year’s ceremony. He said the awardees were impressive and social work was noted for its strong partnership in community involvement and integrated care management across the spectrum of services that help underserved and diverse populations.

From the October 2013 NASW News.

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