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Votes Needed: UConn Competing for LIVESTRONG Grant

The grant would allow the health center to gain advanced certification for its palliative care program — and national recognition.

The UConn Health Center needs your vote to bring better care to patients with cancer and other serious illnesses.

The health center is one of six programs competing in the region — and the only one in Connecticut — for a grant from the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Though organizations can request the funding for various kinds of programs, UConn is seeking training and educational materials to improve the health center’s Pain and Palliative Care Program.

The health center wants the program to gain Advanced Certification from the Joint Commission and to expand the current services for patients.

The services are varied and an important addition to the health center’s care, explained Dr. Joanne Kuntz, the program’s director.

What is palliative care?

“It’s specialized care for people with serious illnesses. It’s focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms of pain, the symptoms and stress of illness, no matter what the diagnosis is,” Kuntz explained. “It’s one of the only fields of medicine specifically related to improving the quality of life for both the patient and the family.”

Since palliative care takes a holistic approach, looking at a patient’s physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological needs, it’s provided by a whole team of people, including social workers, chaplains, doctors and nurses and specialists in pain management.

“When we do an evaluation, we learn about who the patient in the bed is; we find out what their values are, what their goals of care are and help them align treatment… so if someone’s struggling with financial issues, we bring in a social work to help them navigate that process.

“The most important person on the team is the person the patient needs at that moment,” Kuntz explained.

And experts are finding that palliative care, which Kuntz calls an “extra layer of care,” can make a big difference for patients.

“The latest evidence and research shows that patients who have advanced palliative care survive longer, report better symptoms relief and better quality of life." 

UConn wins the grant from the LIVESTRONG Foundation if it gets the most votes, indicating the support of the community for the project.

To cast your vote to bring the Advanced Certification Program for Palliative Care to the health center, click the "VOTE NOW” button. You can vote every day and you can share the link: www.vote.livestrong.org.

Voting ends March 28 at 6 p.m.

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