Cambia Switches from Regional to National Focus for Sojourns Awards

Workforce demand also drives switch to next generation of palliative care leaders.

The Cambia Health Foundation has renamed and revamped the purpose of its Sojourns Awards, now called the Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program to address the cultivation of doctors and nurses in palliative care, the practice of relieving suffering and improving quality of life for people facing serious illness.

Peggy Maguire, president and board chair of the Cambia Health Foundation, said the foundation’s research showed the importance of workforce development  so 10 “emerging national leaders” will share $1.8 million over the next two years, each receiving $90,000 a year to develop and implement innovative palliative care projects in New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Washington state and California.   All previous 19 Sojourns awards since 2010 went to established regional palliative care leaders.  For more on the 2014 winners see

The foundation hired consultant David Weissman, who describes himself as a “recovering oncologist” doing palliative care since the 1990s as founder of the Medical College of Wisconsin Palliative Care Center, to perform a regional assessment to help inform the Cambia Foundation on how to spend money and raise the bar for palliative care in Cambia’s four-state region of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah.

A common struggle throughout the four states and nationally as well, Weissman said, is a lack of palliative care specialists.  Generalist education is what he called the “next great frontier” to train clinicians in the field to broaden palliative care.

Community care in the home or in long-term care facilities ranked second with rural hospitals third, public awareness fourth and Advanced Care Planning, an area where all four states already share strengths, last in priority for Cambia Foundation funding.

Community care warranted a whole panel discussion with even uncertainty about what “community” means.  Is it any palliative care provided outside a hospital?  But hospitals are part of communities and often the largest employer within a community.

Patricia Davidson, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, spent most of her career practicing in Australia where palliative care 15 years ago was about half home and half hospital, based on “what the patient and family need and want.”  Home care works great if the patient has a “functional family” but sometimes the capabilities of the family do not meet the patient’s needs “Natural childbirth is something everyone wants too but it’s not always achievable,” Davidson said.

Rural palliative care, Weissman said, will occur through telemedicine where the patient comes to a site or has equipment in their home to talk to a remote provider.  “Without telemedicine, we’ll never reach rural America and all these four states have significant rural populations,” Weissman said. ”The future is getting [palliative care] embedded in the insurance industry,” with insurers and hospital leaders driving palliative care beyond its stronghold now in oncology to heart, liver, lung and kidney diseases.

Jan can be reached at [email protected].

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