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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Compassionate Care Nominees Sought

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The words were spoken over a decade ago, but the message of health care attorney Kenneth B. Schwartz remains valid and valued today.

"I've been touched by the smallest gestures, a squeeze of the hand, a gentle touch, a reassuring word," Schwartz said shortly before his 1995 death from lung cancer. "In some ways these quiet acts of humanity have felt more healing than the high-dose radiation and chemotherapy that hold the hope of a cure."

2006 Compassionate Caregiver Award Nominations Sought

Schwartz was 40 years old at the time of his death. His commitment to compassionate care was the catalyst for the 1995 launch of the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center. Schwartz founded the non-profit organization before his death with a goal of strengthening the relationship between patients and caregivers and encourage compassionate, engaged patient care.

The Center is seeking nominations from across the state for the 2006 Compassionate Caregiver Award. The award was established in 1999 as a way to recognize and honor paid caregivers who display "extraordinary compassion in caring for patients."

An award review committee with representatives from across the state will consider all nominations. A winner and four finalists will be honored during the Center's annual fundraising dinner scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston.

A winner and finalists are ultimately selected by the Schwartz Center Board of Directors.


Outstanding Berkshire Caregivers

Louise Kodela is a senior director of programs for the National Patient Safety Foundation and is a member of the Schwartz Center compassionate caregiver nomination committee. Kodela's office is based in North Adams at Mass MoCA Way.

Review committee members include doctors, nurses, social workers, patient advocates, health center workers, and consumers. During a March 22 interview, Kodela said that she knows of many devoted, compassionate and caring caregivers whose efforts touch the lives of Berkshire region residents.

"In my opinion, the need for compassion in healthcare today surpasses the need for new and improved technology," Kodela said. "I have been privileged to be a member of the Schwartz Center Award Review Committee for the past four years and I have seen outstanding caregivers honored with this valuable award. Our area has many outstanding, compassionate caregivers and how wonderful it would be to have someone from the Berkshires nominated for this award."

A nomination can be meaningful and validating to a nominee, Kodela said.

Individuals or caregiver "teams" who have direct contact with patients are eligible for nomination. Home health aides, certified nursing assistants, physical and occupational therapists, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, dentists, chaplains, doctors, social workers, physician assistants, psychologists, and other health care providers are eligible for nomination.

According to information provided by the center, nominees should "communicate sensitively with the patient and the patient's loved ones, listening carefully, showing empathy and instilling a sense of hope, respect the patients values, culture, choices, and decisions; and understand the significance of the patient's family and community."

Nomination Process

The award is open only to caregivers delivering care within the state.

The winner is awarded a $5,000 cash prize; the four finalists will be awarded $1,000 cash each.

Nominations may come from any source, including a patient, a family member, a co-worker, a person who observed extraordinary care being provided, or any person with first-hand knowledge about compassionate caregivers. Nominations may come from institutions including long-term care facilities, community health centers, hospice groups, visiting nurse associations, hospitals, and clinics.

The nomination deadline is April 10. Nomination forms may be obtained by faxing a request to 617-726-2224, calling 617-726-0512, or a mailed request for a nomination form. The address is 101 Merrimac St, Suite 603, Boston, MA 02114-2792.

Online nominations are welcome and may be submitted by visiting a www.theschwartzcenter.org Internet web site.

NARH Partcipation With Center "Rounds"

The Schwartz Center's focus includes an emphasis on health care that "values communication and interpersonal sensitivity," works to increase caregiver understanding of the way a patient defines "empathetic care", offers opportunities for patients and caregivers to share experiences within the health care system, and offers caregiver forums that encourage support.

Among the forums are health care professional roundtable discussions called "rounds." "Rounds" have been hosted at hospitals and other health care facilities throughout the state and the nation, including the North Adams Regional Hospital, the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, the Boston Medical Center in Boston, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Topics may include challenging issues such as patients who cannot afford medical care, patients and families perceived as "difficult" or "angry," stories of hope and miracles, humor and healing, caring for a colleague, and other controversial, timely subjects.

Additional information about the Compassionate Caregiver Award or about the Kenneth B. Schwartz Foundation may be acquired at a www.theschwartzcenter.org web site. The award is supported by the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical firm, according to information provided by the center.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.




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