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Connecticut Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care Winter 2021 Newsletter

President's Letter

Cynthia O'Sullivan, PhD, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

(“Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson)

Dear Members and Friends of the Connecticut Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care,

While it is little more than two months since our last newsletter, it feels like much has transpired; we have experienced both tragic events and those that have sparked hope. COVID-19 infections continue to embroil our health care system, but yet, we are optimistic about the availability of several excellent vaccines. Sadly, our country has been besieged by political divisiveness that became even more volatile around the time of the November election, and ultimately degenerated into violent protests in the sacred halls of the U.S. Capitol. In spite of this, (or perhaps because of it), Americans are increasingly calling for peace and healing as we recognize the importance of listening, reconciling, and rebuilding. Many of us, as well as our neighbors and friends, have suffered critical losses--financially, occupationally, and in our personal relationships. As an organization made up of individuals, we feel these stressors; I also feel very fortunate to be associated with a group of people with the power to heal through our capacity to offer hope, compassion, and support during challenging times. Thank you for your good work and for your care and commitment to assist those in need.

This season’s newsletter is dedicated to the gift of hope that comes with the promise of a new year. Dr. Jennifer Kapo is highlighted in our Member Spotlight. Dr. Kapo, in her role as The Sherwin B. Nuland and Michael K. Vlock Associate Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and Chief of Palliative Care Service at Yale-New Haven Hospital has dedicated much of her work to leading efforts aimed at providing hope to patients, families, and professional caregivers. She embodies the importance of inter-professional collaboration, prioritizing patient comfort, and accurate, compassionate information to families and loved ones despite visitation limits required during the pandemic. Supporting the staff’s emotional health as they continue to face challenges in caring for patients with COVID and other life-limiting illness is an ongoing priority for Dr. Kapo’s team.

The newsletter also offers a new section titled, Palliative Care Policy News, penned by Suzanne Marmo. Having knowledge of policy developments and the opportunity to impact change are not only good for society, but can inspire hope among caregivers and patients who are hindered from achieving optimal care due to legal and regulatory restrictions. Once again, affirming the important work of those who care for patients and families at end of life can provide them the hope and inspiration they need to continue their work, even during the most difficult times.

Additionally, The Connecticut Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care’s Annual Meeting is scheduled for January 27, 2021, from 8:30am – 9:30am as a virtual meeting. We hope you all will attend; please feel free to invite colleagues you may know who would be interested in coming. Dr. Kapo will be providing the keynote address focused on caring for the caregiver, and as is our usual custom, we will present awards honoring individuals’ contributions to improving palliative and end-of-life care. The meeting is free of charge and will provide a great opportunity to network with others and learn more about the organization. The meeting agenda and Zoom link are included in the Coalition Activities section of this newsletter.

Please remember that the coalition is an all-volunteer organization; it is made up of volunteers and run by volunteers. If you would like to suggest a project, contribute a brief article to the Spring newsletter, or help us to expand our reach to others, please contact me or other members of the executive board via the coalition email at cteolcoordinator@gmail.com. We would love to take advantage of your talents and ideas!

I hope that reading this winter newsletter inspires you to bring these ideas into your work. I wish for you a safe, productive, and healthy new year, filled with hope and joy.

Most sincerely,

Cynthia O’Sullivan, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC

President, CT Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care

Member Spotlight

Dr. Jennifer Kapo

Our Winter Newsletter spotlights Dr. Jennifer Kapo. Dr. Kapo’s numerous titles include the Sherwin B. Nuland and Michael K. Vlock Associate Professor of Palliative Medicine and Chief of Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Program at Yale University School of Medicine. She is also an associate professor of geriatrics at Yale School of Medicine with a robust research portfolio in palliative medicine. She currently serves as the Director of Yale Cancer Center’s Palliative Care Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital. Dr. Kapo is described on the hospital’s website as dedicating "...her life to helping people diagnosed with serious illnesses. Through careful listening, she provides comforting care, always keeping the individual’s life goals in mind.”

Dr. Kapo’s gifts and accomplishments are far too numerous to mention, but from her perspective, she places high value on “being part of a team that provides the support patients and families need when experiencing a serious illness—from diagnosis through end of life.” Dr. Kapo provides high quality palliative care through the easing of pain, suffering and stress, as well as supporting patient and family psychosocial needs. She addresses the holistic needs of patients’ individual needs, “…because every cancer patient’s needs and experience are unique.” She further describes that, “Research shows that patients and families desire all information—both good and bad—about their condition.” Dr. Kapo prioritizes support to the oncologist, patient and their family in having difficult conversations about the medical condition in a gentle, informative way so that patients actually feel more supported after having these conversations. Dr. Kapo is dedicated to providing information accurately, but compassionately, in order to allow families to access what they need most during this difficult period: HOPE.

Dr. Kapo received her AB from Moravian College in 1993, her MD from The University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1997. She completed her internship, residency and served as Chief Resident at the University of Colorado, and completed fellowships at The University of Pennsylvania in both Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine. She has received numerous awards and honors, including the Ribbon of Distinction Award from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine National Meeting and the Francis T. Sterling Educational Excellence Award from Veteran's Administration Medical Center in Philadelphia.

Dr. Kapo serves on numerous committees and boards at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale Medical School. She has been a member of the Connecticut Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care since 2013 and has been a member of the Board of Directors throughout most of this period. She will be providing the keynote presentation to the Annual Meeting on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 8:30 am. We are so fortunate to have Dr. Kapo as a vital member of the CTEOL Board of Directors! Thank you, Dr. Kapo for all of your contributions to Palliative and End-of-Life Care in Connecticut!

Palliative Care Policy News

Suzanne Marmo, PhD, LCSW, APHSW-C

This section of the newsletter, Palliative Care Policy News, will appear several times a year to increase awareness on policy initiatives, pending legislation and opportunities to learn more about how to organize and influence political change in palliative care. Here are two new pieces of news:

The Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School and the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) have partnered together for the purpose of developing a national database to track state policies related to palliative care based on six categories: workforce, payment, quality/standards, clinical skill building, public awareness, and tele-health. Sacred Heart University School of Social Work has joined this effort to help the partnership, by researching recent palliative care state policies in all 50 states and U.S. territories. This tracker, the Palliative Care GPS, is tentatively scheduled to launch in late Spring/early Summer of 2021. It will allow visitors to search by geographic location, subject matter categories, or search terms for palliative care policies This ability will inform users of how policies have expanded access to palliative care, identify critical areas for future research and reform, and provide general education and awareness on palliative care policies across the country. The Connecticut Coalition to Improve End of Life Care will be keeping its membership updated on the progress of this important initiative.

The Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) is currently seeking support of their call for a National Grief Strategy. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we grieve. From the visiting and goodbyes that didn’t occur, the family gatherings that weren’t allowed, the funeral rites limited or delayed, to the grief suffered in isolation.

If you are interested in learning more or offering your support to the call for implementation of a comprehensive plan for support and expansion of grief services and resources throughout the country, visit the SWHPN website

COVID-19 Vaccination

If you have not already done so, please plan to receive your COVID vaccine. For more information, go to CT's Coronavirus vaccination webpage

Coalition Activities

Annual Meeting

The Connecticut Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care’s Annual Meeting is scheduled for January 27, 2021, from 8:30am – 9:30am as a virtual meeting. We hope you all will attend. Please feel free to invite colleagues you may know who would be interested in coming.

Dr. Kapo will be providing the keynote address focused on caring for the caregiver, and as is our usual custom, we will present awards honoring individuals’ contributions to improving palliative and end-of-life care. The meeting is free of charge and will provide a great opportunity to network with others and learn more about the organization.

Connecticut Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care

Annual Meeting

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

8:15-9:30 am

Zoom Link: https://sacredheart-edu.zoom.us/j/96235286403

Meeting Agenda

• 8:15-8:30 Piano Prelude (Nathan J. Bayreuther, Director of Music Ministry, First Congregational Church of Madison, CT)

• 8:30-8:35 Welcome and Status of the Coalition (Cynthia O’Sullivan)

• 8:35-8:40 Update on Community Outreach to Long-term Care Facilities (Alison Kris)

• 8:40-8:45 Financial Update (Harvey Weinstein)

• 8:45-8:47 Introduction of Dr. Kapo (Cynthia O’Sullivan)

• 8:47-9:07 Keynote Presentation (Dr. Jennifer Kapo) “Care for the Caregiver”

• 9:07-9:20 Introduction and Presentation of Coalition Awards (CTEOL Board of Directors)

o Community Service Award

o Award for Clinical Excellence in Palliative and End-of-Life Care

o Investigator Award

o President’s Award

• 9:20-9:30 Q & A with CTEOL Board

Upcoming Meeting Dates

Executive Board

  • February 3, 2021
  • April 7, 2021
  • June 2, 2021

Full Board

  • March 3, 2021
  • May 5, 2021

Credits:

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