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Building on basics

Hospice grant aids underserved groups

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded the UC Davis Health System a $447,434 grant to improve end-of-life care for cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials, for residents of rural counties and for women in prison.

Frederick J. Meyers, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and director of the West Coast Center for Palliative Education and medical director of the hospice program at UC Davis Medical Center, is principal investigator of the three-year grant.

A significant portion of the grant is devoted to developing a unique program that will allow cancer patients who choose to participate in clinical trials to also receive palliative care. Participating in clinical trials while receiving hospice care is usually prohibited by federal reimbursement regulations.

Another part of the grant will fund outreach programs to health care practitioners in Colusa, Plumas, and Tuolumne counties to provide improved end-of-life care to people in the most isolated areas of these rural counties.

Within the state correctional system, physicians will be trained in supportive care, and a hospice unit will be developed for women inmates diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. The West Coast Center for Palliative Education has already established a training program for the medical and custodial staff and inmate volunteers at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville. It is currently the only prison hospice in California.

All three projects share the common theme of targeting populations which lack access to palliative or hospice care.

The grant program will draw upon a variety of health system resources, including telemedicine, cancer clinical trials, nursing, and rural outreach.


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The hospice administrative team at UC Davis Medical Center includes, from left, Sheila Enders, Dr. Frederick Meyers, John Linder, and (seated from left) Sharon Melberg and Joan Blais.