Western Connecticut Health Network Receives Circle of Life Award for Palliative and End-Of-Life Care Program

New Milford Hospital
Dr. Damanjeet Chaubey accepts Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association

DANBURY, Connecticut, November 5, 2018 —The American Hospital Association (AHA) honored Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) with the prestigious Circle of Life Award® for its innovative Palliative Care program.

When patients and their families face a chronic, life-limiting illness or reach a point when medical care is no longer effective, they often need guidance, expertise, and support in making decisions about plans of care. WCHN’s palliative care specialists can improve quality of life by providing patient and family-centered care that treats physical and emotional symptoms and reduces suffering.

WCHN’s Palliative Care program has made a positive impact throughout Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, and Norwalk Hospital. Over the past ten years, WCHN’s Palliative Care program has grown from a small team at Danbury Hospital to reaching patients across the network and the continuum of care, including home care, nursing homes, cancer center outpatients, and in the offices of primary care physicians and pulmonologists. This rapid growth was encouraged by the organization’s supportive leadership and efforts to educate staff and clinicians about the essentials of palliative care.

WCHN Palliative Care Team receives Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association“We are very pleased to have this important validation of our work. Our team takes great pride in serving the needs of chronically ill patients with dignity and respect, and providing care options that promote their best quality of life while keeping them as healthy as possible and out of the hospital,” said Damanjeet Chaubey, MD, Director of Palliative Care and Denial Management at WCHN. Dr. Chaubey is also the Andrew Cruz Endowed Chair in Palliative Care at WCHN. 

More than 200 frontline nursing staff at WCHN has End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) training in palliative care methods. Further, all WCHN hospitalists and nearly half of the primary care workforce have generalist palliative care training. WCHN uses its electronic health record (EHR) system to flag high-risk patients for a palliative consult and maintain goals of care decision documents that remain accessible to care providers throughout the network.

“This year’s honor demonstrates that the needs of patients and their families can be met at home and in other community settings to ensure that the best possible care is provided across the care spectrum,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “These innovative programs address critical needs that help patients best manage their health.”

Circle of Life Award nominations were reviewed and site-visited by a selection committee that included leaders from medicine, nursing, social work, and health administration.

The Circle of Life Award honors palliative care programs that:

  • Serve people with life-limiting illness, their families, and their communities
  • Demonstrate effective, patient and family-centered, timely, safe, efficient, and equitable palliative and end-of-life care
  • Use innovative approaches to meet critical needs and serve as sustainable, replicable models for a segment of the field, particularly for marginalized populations
  • Pursue quality improvement consistent with the National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, NHPCO Standards of Practice for Hospice Programs, or other widely-accepted standards, within their resources and capabilities
  • Address medical, psychosocial, spiritual, and cultural needs throughout the disease trajectory
  • Actively partner with other health care organizations, education and training programs, the community, providers of care, and insurers
  • Use metrics that demonstrate significant impact and value for individuals, families, and communities

About the Circle of Life Award
The 2018 awards are supported, in part, by grants from the California Health Care Foundation, based in Oakland, California, and the Cambia Health Foundation, based in Portland, Oregon. Major sponsors of the 2018 awards are the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Health Association, and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization & National Hospice Foundation. The awards are cosponsored by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the Center to Advance Palliative Care, the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association & the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center & the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation, and the National Association of Social Workers. The Circle of Life Award program is administered by the Health Research & Educational Trust. For more information on the Circle of Life Award, visit aha.org/circleoflife.

To learn more about Palliative Care at WCHN, watch this short video, here, or visit our website.

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