Coalition for Quality at the End of Life Explores Communication on Advance Care Planning and Hospice/Palliative Care

Experts from across Pennsylvania joined the CQEL meeting.

The Coalition for Quality at the End of Life (CQEL) held a statewide quarterly meeting on December 2, organized by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF). Forty attendees joined the Zoom meeting, hosted by JHF COO and Chief Program Officer Nancy Zionts, MBA, and JHF Medical Advisor Judy Black, MD. The virtual format implemented since the start of the pandemic has helped to increase participation of CQEL members from across the commonwealth. In-person meetings typically drew half as many attendees, noted Zionts.

The first presentation featured James W. Joseph, MD, HMDC, FAAFP, medical director at Geisinger Hospice and Geisinger at Home Palliative Care and co-leader of Geisinger's myCareChoices program, and Karen L. Adams, RN, BSN, program director of advanced illness for Geisinger Health System and co-leader of myCareChoices. They discussed their approach to educating clinicians on person-centered communication with a particular focus on patients' understanding of their illness and their choices for treatment and the approach to measuring success.

Justin A. Yu, MD, MS, assistant professor of pediatrics and assistant director of community outreach at the Palliative Research Center in the divisions of Supportive and Palliative Care and Pediatric Hospital Medicine at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, presented on research looking to address racial inequities in use of hospice and palliative care as well as advance care planning. His project involves developing a church-based curriculum to train lay health ministers to have conversations about these topics with members of Pittsburgh's Black community.

Richard Weinberg, MD, clinical associate professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics at the University of Pittsburgh, discussed proposed legislation in Pennsylvania on medical and geriatric parole, which would make incarcerated people who have a chronic medical condition or terminal illness or who are 55 years or older and have served 25 years or half their sentence eligible for parole.

A highlight of the meeting was the unveiling of the new PA POLST curriculum, which will launch in 2022, funded by a grant from the McElhattan Foundation. Dr. Black walked the attendees through examples of the revised curriculum on the PA POLST website, which will incorporate self-paced online learning as well as an abbreviated virtual course and an updated in-person course. The curriculum features video learning components and interactive CQEL members are invited to review and provide feedback on the curriculum prior to launch.

The next CQEL meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 17th, 2022, from 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm and will feature a discussion about the intersection of advance care planning policy and practice with Dr. Robert Arnold and Dr. Emily Jaffe, moderated by Dr. Alexander Nesbitt.

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