Foundation Funds Groundbreaking Hospice and Palliative Care Fellowship in Louisiana

August 3, 2020

The Heart of Hospice Foundation is funding a groundbreaking Hospice and Palliative Care Fellowship with University Medical Center, Tulane University, and Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System. The fellowship is the first of its kind in Louisiana and the product of a long-imagined dream to combat a shortage of certified palliative care and hospice physicians.

A recent Duke University research study led by Dr. Arif Kamal, oncologist and palliative medicine specialist, uncovered that without policy change to increase fellowship positions and reduce burnout, there will be a devastating shortage of palliative care physicians over the next 25 years. Additionally, all four statistical models of the study predict a record low number of practicing palliative care physicians in 2033. Currently, only 55.8% of hospitals in Louisiana have a palliative care team. The lack of palliative care resources creates a barrier to residents with serious illnesses receiving care, particularly in rural areas.

Dr. Marcia Glass, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at Tulane University, shares: "We are so excited for this first class of palliative-care fellows in the state of Louisiana and for our ongoing clinical and academic partnership with Heart of Hospice."

The fellowship provides medical students with the opportunity to attain hospice and palliative care certification during their educational career. The fellowship curriculum will generate expertise in hospice and palliative medicine by requiring hands-on participation in daily care team operations of Heart of Hospice. The core curriculum will teach the hospice benefit, involve participation in interdisciplinary care team meetings and require students to lead patient visits.

Heart of Hospice Foundation Executive Director, Elyssa Katz, adds: "We see this as a first step forward in engaging with local, regional, and national institutions, progressing our mission to educate the community about the realities of hospice and palliative care, debunking common myths about both, and ensuring future generations have the resources they need to take care of their aging population. Increasing education and access will also assist in minimizing the conspiracy of silence that often surrounds end-of-life care."