For Immediate Release
September 30, 2019
Media Contact: Claire Callahan, 415.655.4405
Largest Regional Investment to Date Seeks to Transform How People Experience End of Life across the Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO, September 30, 2019 – Today the Stupski Foundation announced its spend down strategies to address some of the biggest challenges in the communities it calls home, including investing more than $14 million in seven local health systems to support and enhance comprehensive serious illness care programs across San Francisco and Alameda Counties and support patients at the end of life.
The investments represent the largest regional commitment from the Stupski Foundation as it seeks to transform how people experience the end of life in the communities it calls home.
“My experience caring for my husband, Larry, at the end of his life showed me the great need to change how seriously ill patients and their loved ones experience the end of life,” said Joyce Stupski, founder and chair of the board of the Stupski Foundation. “We must do more to ensure patients receive care that reduces unnecessary suffering and respects their wishes.”
The investments will significantly increase Bay Area health systems’ ability to provide palliative care, a medical specialty that gives patients relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness and improves quality of life for the patient and their loved ones. Many planned programs also include training for doctors and staff to better equip them to talk with their patients about emotional end of life choices and identify the care that patients truly want.
The investments seek to:
- Expand specialty palliative care services by over one-third, reaching thousands of additional patients a year;
- Double the number of patients receiving home-based palliative care, reaching hundreds more people per year in the comfort of their homes;
- Train hundreds of primary care doctors and support staff on palliative care and how to have conversations about care preferences, document them, and ensure they are honored.
When confronted with a serious illness diagnosis, too many patients land in the complicated, disconnected maze of the medical system. Often, they do not have the support they need to manage their illnesses in line with their own values and evaluate the impacts of those choices. Patients with a serious illness report alarming levels of physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering. One in four patients nationwide have experienced unmet needs for pain, half have suffered from a lack of emotional support (Teno JM, Clarridge BR, Casey V, et al. Family Perspectives on End-of-Life Care at the Last Place of Care. JAMA. 2004;291(1):88–93. doi:10.1001/jama.291.1.88), and almost 2 in 3 have had spiritual or religious concerns (Makaroun, LK, Teno, JM, Freedman, VA, et al. Late Transitions and Bereaved Family Member Perceptions of Quality of End-of-Life Care. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2018, 66(9): 1730–1736. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.15455).
“This is our first big step in spending down all our assets, and we hope it can begin to transform how people experience end of life care in the Bay Area,” said Dan Tuttle, director of health with the Stupski Foundation. “We are grateful to have worked closely with leaders at each site to scope these grants together, building on the work they have done to date. Having their voices and experience shape this grant portfolio has been educational and humbling. We’re eager to share what we learn from the ongoing partnership to encourage other regions to apply a similar strategy.”
Participating health systems include Alameda Health System, Chinese Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Washington Hospital, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. The seven health systems intend to share insights from their work that could benefit the full cohort and lift up care throughout our region.
Click into the maps below to see where palliative care services will expand across Alameda and San Francisco Counties by 2022.
“This support helps us ensure that everyone who needs palliative care gets it – not just here at UCSF but across the Bay Area,” said Dr. Steve Pantilat, chief, Division of Palliative Medicine. “I’m thankful that Stupski recognizes the powerful benefits of palliative care and invests in a region-wide collaborative effort like this. The cross-learning between health systems will advance the field of palliative care.”
Many patients fall through the cracks of the health system because they do not know how to access services, face language and cultural barriers, or distrust the medical system. Stupski is investing in health systems like Chinese Hospital as part of this initiative to connect with patients in these communities so that everyone can receive the care they need.
“In addition to our inpatient palliative care program, with this grant we will be able to add an outpatient program in our hospital and clinics,” said Dr. Jian Zhang, Chinese Hospital CEO. “Our goal is to provide language and culturally appropriate palliative care programs to San Francisco’s Chinese community. We strive to enhance the quality of life and reduce the suffering of patients and their families facing the problems associated with serious illness.”
Stupski’s investment in serious illness care is one example of how the Foundation will prioritize local systems change to ensure that every member of our community enjoys a life marked by dignity, connectedness and caring.
The Stupski Foundation is collaborating with community partners to invest all of our assets within the next 10 years to address some of the Bay Area’s and Hawaiʻi’s biggest challenges so that one day everyone can benefit from the wealth of opportunities and resources in the places we call home. Learn more about Stupski’s work by visiting www.stupski.org.