Jewish Healthcare Foundation Receives $50,000 for End-of-Life Virtual Training Curriculum

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) received a $50,000 grant from the McElhattan Foundation to develop a virtual curriculum for PA POLST (Pennsylvania Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) training, to expand the reach of the training for healthcare providers across the Commonwealth. JHF is the founder and statewide coordinator for the Coalition for Quality at End of Life and PA POLST, and it serves as the source for certified POLST education, fielding questions and consultations from providers across Pennsylvania. This project builds on JHF's Liftoff PGH initiative, which included discussion of innovation at end-of-life care and was also sponsored by the McElhattan Foundation.

The POLST process is designed to ensure that seriously ill or very frail patients can choose the treatments they want or do not want and that their wishes are documented and honored across care settings and health systems. The training equips healthcare providers to hold conversations with seriously ill patients and their loved ones about treatment options near the end of life to document the patient's wishes on a POLST form, which communicates the patient's preferences when they cannot do so.

Currently, the only option for PA POLST training is in person, which limits attendees' ability to participate and adds costs. A virtual curriculum will reach hundreds of additional healthcare providers and create the highest quality content to be delivered by the POLST team, sponsored by the Coalition for Quality at the End of Life (CQEL).

In consultation with community experts and practitioners, the JHF Aging Team will spearhead the creation and testing of online, self-paced training tools and adapt the existing POLST: Doing it Right! curriculum to allow for virtual live events. The POLST team will deliver the new curriculum to a minimum of four cohorts of public health professionals across Pennsylvania in the first year, starting in fall 2021. POLST will continue to provide resources that help assure patient preferences for care at the end of life are respected, as part of registration for training.

This project builds on JHF's history of work to support education and awareness around patient-centered end-of-life care in Pennsylvania and other states. JHF developed Closure, an education, planning, and outreach effort focused on end-of-life care, and in 2012 held a two-day Closure Conversation for 100 PA leaders, resulting in the expansion of CQEL. JHF has catalyzed similar Closure efforts in Utah and Louisiana and regularly presents Community Conversations on end-of-life at the University of Pittsburgh Osher Institute. In additional training and awareness efforts, JHF offers the annual Death & Dying Fellowship for young health professionals; developed the Creative Nonfiction edition Stories at the End of Life; and funded the Emmy-nominated WQED documentary The Last Chapter. 

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