Mount Sinai’s Palliative Care Program Receives Grant to Provide Companionship for Patients

The grant helps to expand care of patients in Mount Sinai’s palliative program.

New York. NY
 – March 4, 2011 /Press Release/  –– 

A new grant from the Y.C. Ho, Helen and Michael Chiang Foundation will enable Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute to expand services and increase the number of doulas, or volunteers providing compassionate companionship, for patients at Mount Sinai. 

The grant was given to the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Inc. (JBFCS), an organization that has worked with Mount Sinai since 2008. The "Doula to Accompany and Comfort" (DAC) program, run by JBFCS, partners with medical teams to minimize the isolation often felt by hospitalized patients. It is the only program of its kind that trains and supervises volunteers in hospital palliative care units. Volunteers are called "doulas," the same word used to describe the well-developed international system of companions for women in childbirth, because the kind of care required during serious illness is very similar to the kind of tender care needed at the beginning of life. 

DAC was originally designed to provide patients with care at home or in the hospital. "When JBFCS partnered with Mount Sinai, we created a new model specific to in-hospital care that allows volunteers to see multiple patients while they are hospitalized, thus increasing the number of patients each volunteer can visit during their weekly visit," said Marianne Gelber, MSN, GNP, ACHPN, Clinical Coordinator at the Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute who collaborated with JBFCS to create the Mount Sinai program. 

At Mount Sinai, doulas provide support and respite for families and patients through activities such as creating memory books, listening to music, reading, and providing companionship during medical treatments. The program has proven so successful, that Maimonides Medical Center, Bellevue Hospital Center, Lenox Hill Hospital, North Shore University Hospital, and New York Veteran’s Hospital have implemented it. The 18-month grant, for $36,700, will allow the Mount Sinai program to increase the number of doulas from four to twelve, enabling full-week coverage. 

"This vote of confidence from the Y.C. Ho, Helen and Michael Chiang Foundation confirms our belief in the healing power of human relationships and human support when people are ill," said Diane Meier, MD, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care and the Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute. "The expansion of the doula program enabled by this grant will bring companionship and care to the hospital, where patients need it most. We are deeply grateful for the help." 

DAC and Mount Sinai staff will work together to develop the structure of the expanded program, recruit and train volunteers, and evaluate the effectiveness of the program. At the end of the 18-month grant, Mount Sinai staff will take ownership of the program. 

"We are proud to have the opportunity to partner with The Mount Sinai Medical Center as it develops its own doula program," said Paul Levine, Executive Vice President and CEO of Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. "This program expansion will build on Mount Sinai’s use of JBFCS’ doulas to bring national attention to the use of specially trained volunteers for in-patient palliative care. JBFCS’ Doula to Accompany and Comfort program has been a model for volunteer companions for people with serious or life-threatening illness in New York, around the country and most recently in Canada." 

Palliative care is the medical specialty focused on improving the quality of life of people facing serious illness. Emphasis is placed on pain and symptom management, communication and coordinated care. Palliative care is appropriate from the time of diagnosis and can be provided along with curative treatment. 

About The Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine 

The field of geriatrics began in 1909 when Mount Sinai’s Ignatz L. Nascher, MD, coined the term "geriatrics" and wrote the first textbook on geriatrics in 1914. In the decades since, we have built one of the largest academic geriatrics and palliative medicine programs in the United States, ranked number one in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. It is nationally and internationally recognized as a model for advancing health and healthcare for older people and those with serious illness through integrated clinical care, education, and research. 

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center 

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of few medical schools embedded in a hospital in the United States. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 15 institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institute of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report. The school received the 2009 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of American Medical Colleges. 

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation's oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital among the nation's best hospitals based on reputation, patient safety, and other patient-care factors. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 530,000 outpatient visits took place. 

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About the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS) 

JBFCS offers more than 175 distinct programs to all New Yorkers. The depth and breadth of our programming is matched only by the diversity of the population we serve. As we reflect on more than a century of service, we see mirrored in our own image the face of the city itself -- made up of myriad races and ethnicities, of the indigent, the working poor and the middle class, of young people and elders. What unites every one of us – our staff, our clinicians and the people we serve – is a common understanding of our personal and family challenges and the mutual aspiration toward a satisfying life for all, regardless of social, economic or health status.