The Arkansas Hospice Foundation announced Monday that it has received a $50,000 grant from the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation to educate African American communities in rural Arkansas about the benefits of hospice and palliative care. Part of the Hillman Serious Illness and End of Life Emergent Innovation Program, the award is one of eight new grants supporting nursing-driven innovation in communities that have historically struggled against oppression, discrimination, and indifference.
Arkansas Hospice’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for those facing serious illness and loss by surrounding them with love and embracing them with the best in physical, emotional and spiritual care. The hospice care provider is the recipient of numerous local, state and national awards, as well as numerous other awards for quality of care, including Hospice Honors Elite from HEALTHCAREfirst, as well as the only hospice in Arkansas to be certified by the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs for nonprofit service to Arkansas’ veteran population.
For Arkansas Hospice, the grant will support the organization’s “Reaching Communities of Color in Arkansas” initiative to help expand the acceptance and understanding of hospice and palliative care among African Americans, especially in rural Arkansas.
The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of patients, families, and communities through nursing-driven innovation. To this end, the Foundation cultivates nurse leaders, supports nursing research, and promotes new models of care that are critical to making the U.S. health care system more patient-centered, accessible, equitable, and affordable.
Deanna May, RN, one of Arkansas Hospice’s education & quality coordinators, will lead the project alongside Kyle Jones, Arkansas Hospice’s minority outreach coordinator.
“Research shows that minority groups, particularly African Americans, are skeptical of hospice care and are at risk of not dying well – meaning that their final days might be filled with pain, fear, and regret, rather than making the most of that time with loved ones,” May said. Our program will offer education on the benefits of hospice and palliative care through partnerships with African American faith communities and small-town leadership. It’s our hope that these relationships, along with technological innovations, will help turn these statics around – and ultimately help make the final days
of more Arkansans as comfortable and pain-free as possible.”
The Advisory Board and Partners for this project include Dr. Keneshia Bryant, director of the Faith-Academic Initiatives for Transforming Health (FAITH) Network and assistant dean for Diversity Equity and Inclusion at the College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Dr. Claudia Barone and Dr. Patricia Cowen from the UAMS College of Nursing; Judge Wendell Griffen and Patricia Griffen.
“The pandemic has made disparities in palliative and end-of-life care even more painfully clear,” said Rachael Watman, vice president of programs at the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. “Together with our partners at the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, we are committed to addressing these gaps in care and advancing innovative ideas to serve marginalized populations.”