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March 20. 2014 8:29PM

Dartmouth-Hitchcock gets $10M hospice care donation

LEBANON — A $10 million gift will fund a new palliative and hospice care center at Dartmouth Hitchcock, the medical center announced Thursday.

“The Center for Palliative and Hospice Care will combine the latest thinking and techniques to advance interdisciplinary patient and family-centered care while offering unprecedented opportunities for teaching, training, and research for health care providers and clinicians in training from across the country,” Dartmouth-Hitchcock said in the announcement.

The $10 million donation was given anonymously and is the largest in Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s history.

“The donor definitely wants to support the work Dartmouth-Hitchcock is doing in advancing palliative care,” said Dr. Ira Byock, who served as director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock from 2002 to 2013. He will act as a consultant to the project.

The gift is to be used to establish a 12-bed center for specialized care for seriously ill people whose pain or other medical needs are difficult to manage at home or in a nursing home.

The $10 million gift will cover half the anticipated costs of the $20.5 million Center for Palliative and Hospice Care. The balance will be raised through fundraising.

“Although great advances in palliative and hospice care have been made in the last decade, too many people are still dying in ways they would not want, often in intensive care units, connected to machines,” Dartmouth Hitchcock CEO and President Dr. James N. Weinstein said in the announcement. “At Dartmouth-Hitchcock, with our colleague Dr. Ira Byock leading the way, we have built an internationally respected palliative care program. This incredibly generous gift will allow us to further advance this work within a dedicated facility where we will be able to better address the physical comfort, emotional and spiritual well-being, and inherent dignity of each patient and his or her family.”

There would be a communal area with a kitchen, quiet spaces that would create a reflective environment and areas where children could feel comfortable and not in the way, Byock said.

“I see this as a welcoming environment for families, even extended families of people who are seriously ill, but have complex needs that can’t be met at home,” he said.

The donation will further Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s leadership in person-centered care for people with life-threatening conditions, he said, and train doctors, nurses and other professionals in palliative and hospice care and conduct research that advances the field of hospice and palliative care nationally.

“American health care is really a disease detection and treatment system. And while we do that well in the United States, illness, dying and grief are fundamentally personal,” Byock said. “What Dartmouth is doing is making a commitment to bringing the same commitment to personal care through the end of the life.”

Regional providers would be encouraged to draw on the center for education and training in palliative and hospice care.

Dartmouth plans to open the center in 2017. Its exact location has not been decided.

mpierce@newstote.com


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