Program History and Highlights

History of the development of Palliative Care and Supportive Care programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

The Palliative Care Program at UNC-CH was initiated by Dr. Steve Bernard after sabbatical training led by Dr. Eduardo Bruera at the University of Alberta. He was joined in this effort by Dr. Laura Hanson who was trained in palliative care after being selected as a Soros Foundation Project on Death in America Scholar. Together they began a clinical palliative care service with support from oncology and geriatric medicine. They received a grant from the Duke Endowment in 2001 and began seeing patients in 2002. The Palliative Care Program has now served over 1300 patients over the past nine years. The Palliative Care Consult Service (the clinical component of the Program) includes two advanced practice nurses, one social worker, four physicians, and other disciplines that are available on an as-needed basis. The service has grown to encompass an inpatient consult service and an Outpatient Supportive Care Consult Service and Clinic that was established in 2007 with funding from the University Cancer Research Fund.

In 2007, the Palliative Care Program was also awarded an Investments for the Future grant by the UNC School of Medicine, allowing the program to expand and refine its clinical database and to test a method for measuring the quality of palliative care across UNC Hospitals. In addition, the program has incorporated an educational effort, supported by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, to expand palliative care education for medical students from an elective course to a course central to the fourth year medical curriculum.

The Children's Supportive Care Team was established in 2012 to provide palliative care consults to seriously ill children and their families. Preceding the development of the consult team, an interdisciplinary group of providers at North Carolina Children's Hospital formed the Pediatric Palliative Care Committee to promote high quality palliative care through education and advocacy. Committee members represent Nursing, Social Work and Clinical Care Management, Child life and Recreational therapy, Psychology, Pastoral Care, the Hospital School, the Center for Maternal and Infant Health, the Hospital Ethics Committee, UNC Hospice, the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill, and the UNC Dance Marathon, a UNC campus group that provides funding to the program. Additionally, parent advisors provide support and guidance for activities of the committee and consult team. In its first two years, the Children's Supportive Care Team provided care to over 200 seriously ill children and education to health care providers from all disciplines.

 

Highlights and Timeline


  • 1997- Laura Hanson, MD, is selected as a Soros Foundation Project on Death in America Scholar
  • 1998- Steve Bernard, MD, trains during a sabbatical with Eduardo Bruera, MD Director of the Edmonton Palliative Care Program
  • 2001- Drs. Bernard and Hanson secure a three-year start up funding from the Duke Endowment
  • 2003- 250 patient consults
  • 2004- UNC Pain and Symptom Care Program approved by the Clinical Program Planning Committee
  • 2004- UNC Hospitals is recognized as one of four Better Performers in Palliative Care by the University Health Systems Consortium's first collabrative in palliative care.
  • 2005- 500 patient consults
  • 2007- UNC was awarded an Investments for the Future grant by the UNC School of Medicine
  • 2007- The Supportive Care Consult Service and Clinic established with funding from the University Cancer Research Fund.
  • 2008- 1,000 patient consults
  • 2012 - The Children's Supportive Care Team was established.