Press Releases

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Awards Grants Totaling 4.5 Million To Increase Availability of Palliative Care in U.S. Hospitals

Designed to Improve Care for Millions Suffering Serious Illness

New York, NY (August 5, 2003) — The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), a national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), announced today that RWJF is committing $4.5 million to increase the availability of palliative care in hospitals throughout the nation – benefiting millions of Americans who suffer from life-threatening illness.

The grants will fund six institutions with exemplary palliative care programs – Palliative Care Leadership Centers (PCLCs) – over a three-year period. Each will provide a site-visitor program for professionals from other healthcare institutions intending to start palliative care programs. PCLCs will offer hands-on intensive training focused on the financial and operational aspects of building a program.

A rapidly growing field, palliative care specializes in treating the pain and suffering of seriously ill patients in order to maximize quality of life. Research shows that a majority of patients with cancer and other serious illnesses suffer pain and discomfort despite the fact that their symptoms can be safely and effectively treated. Oncologists report that as many as two-thirds of their patients suffer from pain, and 75% of these patients categorize their pain as moderate to very severe. According to RWJF and the Center to Advance Palliative Care, we need to establish palliative care programs in hospitals and nursing homes where the sickest patients are found.

“The PCLC initiative will help millions of patients and families who suffer from the pain and debilitating symptoms of serious, chronic illness. Palliative care is a rapidly growing trend, and over 800 hospitals now have palliative care programs. However, a disparity still exists between the number of U.S. hospitals (approximately 4,500) and the number hospitals with palliative care programs," says Dr. Diane E. Meier, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care.

RWJF and CAPC solicited proposals from palliative care programs throughout the country. After a rigorous year-long selection process six centers were chosen based upon clinical and program excellence, leadership, and educational experience. They represent diverse healthcare settings, including academic medical centers, a cancer center, community health systems, and a community-based hospice organization.

The Palliative Care Leadership Centers are:

  • Fairview Foundation (Fairview Health Services)-- Minneapolis, MN
  • Massey Cancer Center of Virginia Commonwealth University Health System-- Richmond, VA
  • Medical College of Wisconsin-- Milwaukee, WI
  • Mount Carmel Health System-- Columbus, OH
  • Palliative Care Center of the Bluegrass-- Lexington, KY
  • University of California, San Francisco-- San Francisco, CA

Key components of the PCLC site-visit program will focus on financial and operational issues, such as:

  • Financial and business planning;
  • Organizational and service models;
  • Clinical operations and staffing;
  • Community partnerships; and
  • Clinical and quality outcomes.

For patients and families, palliative care programs provide expert pain and symptom control, coordination of care, and practical support for family caregivers. For hospitals, palliative care programs help meet JCAHO quality standards, increase patient satisfaction, and enhance reputation by providing a critically needed service. The PCLCs will help hospitals throughout the country to start, build, or strengthen their own palliative care programs.

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The Palliative Care Leadership Center initiative is funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with technical assistance provided by the Center to Advance Palliative Care. Based in Princeton, NJ, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and healthcare in the United States.

The Center to Advance Palliative Care, located at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (NY), is a national initiative of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, providing hospitals and other healthcare settings with tools and technical assistance to develop hospital-based palliative care programs.

CONTACT: Lisa Morgan, LDM Strategies, 212-924-6182 or

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