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For Release: July 12, 2011
David Corriveau 603-653-1978
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AHA cites Dartmouth-Hitchcock for palliative, end-of-life care

Ira R. Byock, MD

Lebanon, NH—The American Hospital Association (AHA) will confer a Citation of Honor on the palliative-medicine program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), during the Circle of Life Award® ceremonies at the AHA's Leadership Summit in San Diego in mid-July.

Under the direction of Ira R. Byock, MD, DHMC's palliative-care staff offers what AHA describes as a "strong commitment to inpatient and outpatient palliative care, regional focus and end-of-life and palliative care research and education."

"We are delighted to receive this recognition on behalf of DHMC," said Byock, who also serves as chair of palliative medicine at Dartmouth Medical School (DMS). "Our Palliative Care team meets and accompanies patients and families during exceedingly difficult times in their lives. In addition to managing pain and other distressing symptoms, we strive to provide genuine patient- and family-centered care. It is a privilege to do this work - and to be part of this remarkable medical center."

The Dartmouth program played a substantial role in New Hampshire and Vermont earning two of just three 'A' grades nationwide for access to palliative-care services, according to a "report card" by the Center to Advance Palliative Care and the National Palliative Care Research Center in 2008.

DHMC was one of four institutions receiving a Citation of Honor from the AHA, which recognized three programs with the Circle of Life Award for "expanding the reach of palliative and end-of-life care." A selection committee of leaders from medicine, nursing, social work, and health administration received and reviewed nominations for the award, and visited programs that respect patient goals and preferences, provide comprehensive care, acknowledge and address the family or caregivers' concerns and needs, and build systems and mechanisms of support that will ensure that the programs continue.

"A patient needing palliative or end-of-life care faces difficult challenges that must be addressed with skill and unique expertise," AHA president and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said. "These winners exemplify what the health care field is striving for: compassionate care for patients and families at all times. These innovative programs serve as guiding lights for others on this path."

For more information on the Circle of Life Award, visit


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