A pioneer in establishing palliative care as a medical specialty is one of the five American physicians being honored today for improving the care of patients near the end of life such that maximum comfort and function are both maintained. Others include geriatricians and pediatricians. They were named recipients of the second annual Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards.
The awards were given by the Cunniff-Dixon Foundation, whose mission is to enrich the doctor-patient relationship near the end of life, in partnership with The Hastings Center. The nomination and selection process was administered by The Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life.
The recipients were drawn from a national group of nominees. “This year’s awardees represent the very best traditions of the humanism of medicine and the best in doctoring,” said selection committee member Richard Payne, MD, Esther Colliflower Director of the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life and a Hastings Center board member.
“Palliative medicine was a dream years ago, when The Hastings Center began working to improve compassion and care at the end of life, but these five physicians have helped make that dream a reality,” said Thomas Murray, president of The Hastings Center. “We are pleased to help reward their leadership and dedication to this field.”
The awards were made in three categories: a senior physician category for leadership in end-of-life care, a midcareer physician category for longstanding commitment to serving patients and for leadership in palliative care, and an early-career physician category for serious commitment to the field and contribution through practical research or clinical work.
Ann Allegre, MD, FACP, FAAHPM, director of medical programs at Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care in Kansas City, Mo., received the senior physician award of $25,000. Dr. Allegre is a pioneer in hospice care and palliative medicine, coming to the field before formal training programs were available or professional literature existed. She has developed hospice and palliative care services as well as physician education and training programs throughout Kansas City and has been recognized for national leadership by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
Anthony Nicholas Galanos, MA, MD, medical director of the Duke University Hospital Palliative Care Service in Durham, N.C., received the midcareer physician award of $25,000. A geriatrician, Dr. Galanos has worked for more than a decade to establish a palliative care service at Duke, dramatically improving the quality of end-of-life care there. Colleagues and patients recognize him for outstanding skill at managing difficult symptoms, as well as for his grasp of the art of medicine, evidenced by compassion and providing spiritual and psychosocial support.
Early-career awards of $15,000 each were given to three physicians:
- Stefan J. Friedrichsdorf, MD, medical director of the Department of Pain Medicine, Palliative Care, and Integrative Medicine at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, for innovative symptom management of pediatric patients, compassion, and family-centered care
- Savithri Nageswaran, MBBS, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, for providing palliative care for children with complex, life-threatening medical conditions
- Eric W. Widera, MD, director of the Hospice and Palliative Care Service of San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and an assistant professor of geriatrics at the University of California San Francisco, for his humility, his commitment to his patients and their families, and his leadership in creating forums of communication on geriatric palliative care issues
The prize recipients were selected by a committee convened by The Hastings Center. In addition to Richard Payne, the committee consisted of Thomas P. Duffy, MD, of Yale University; Kathleen M. Foley, MD, of Cornell University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Larry R. Churchill, PhD, of Vanderbilt University.
The Cunniff-Dixon Foundation was founded in 2005 by Matthew A. Baxter in memory of his wife, Carley Cunniff, who died of breast cancer, and her attending physician, Dr. Peter S. Dixon, in Essex, Ct., who enabled her to die a peaceful death at home with her family and loved ones.