UW Center is Among 3 in U.S. Honored for Palliative Care

The American Hospital Association today recognized the University of Washington’s Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence for its role in caring for people with life-limiting illnesses.

The UW program was among three nationwide honored with the association’s Circle of Life Award, which celebrates great strides in palliative and hospice care.

Palliative care is specialized medical care focused on relieving patients’ symptoms, pain and stress involving a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

“Palliative care used to be equated with end-of-life care. Now there’s this understanding that a lot of what we do in palliative care needs to start when people develop a serious illness,” said Dr. Randy Curtis, the center’s director and a UW Medicine pulmonary and critical care specialist. “It can be emotional, it can be physical or spiritual; it can be very practical, like the mechanics of coordinating visits from multiple caregivers.”

The Seattle-based center, launched in 2012, trains teams of UW Medicine nurses, social workers, chaplains, pharmacists and doctors, thereby extending patients’ access to palliative care across clinical programs. In 2014 the center received a $10-million endowment from the Cambia Health Foundation.

Curtis and the center’s co director, Dr. Anthony Back, a UW Medicine cancer specialist, will receive the Circle of Life Award on July 18 at a ceremony in San Diego. The other two U.S. programs to be honored with the award are Bon Secours Palliative Medicine in Richmond, Virginia, and Susquehanna Health in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

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