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Pioneer Medal awarded to Amy Berman, RN and Ira Byock, MD for Outstanding Leadership in Health Care

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Friends and colleagues filled the sanctuary of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in midtown Manhattan on May 13th to attend HealthCare Chaplaincy Network’s 2014 Convocation. This annual event commissions chaplains, celebrates staff accomplishments and honors leading academic/clinicians.  

HealthCare Chaplaincy’s Pioneer Medal recognizes the singular accomplishments of an individual whose seminal research and/or innovative practice shape the way we think about and understand the complex and critical issues in contemporary health care.

Amy Berman, BS, RN, was the first of the night’s two Pioneer Medal honorees.
Ms Berman
is a Senior Program Officer at the Hartford Foundation, and heads the Integrating and Improving Services program, focusing on developing innovative, cost-effective models of care for older adults.  She also directs a number of collaborations with the U.S. Administration on Aging/AARP that addresses the needs of family caregivers. 

She is also a cancer patient.

Ms. Berman’s keynote address focused on the Moral and Spiritual Crisis of Care.
She noted that she was offered two very different paths of treatment for her cancer.

“The first doctor wanted to throw everything at the cancer—the most intense
chemotherapy my body could handle, followed by a mastectomy, radiation, and more chemotherapy.  Fight. Fight. Fight.  Fight the cancer. 

“The other doctor asked what I hoped for.  I told her that I wanted the Niagara Falls trajectory.  I start with great quality of life and end…you know what end means.  I want to feel good, good, good, and then drop off the cliff.  Keep me feeling as good as possible for as long as possible but don’t push for more bad days. 

“The first doctor would have dropped me off the cliff immediately.  I would have gone from feeling well to having nausea, burns, going through surgery, swelling of the arm, being very debilitated.  And it would not have changed the final outcome for me.

“I chose the doctor that asked me what I wanted.”

The second of the evening’s Pioneer Medal honorees was Ira Byock, MD, who is
considered one of the most influential leaders in hospice and palliative medicine.

Dr. Byock is a palliative care physician and professor of medicine at The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and former Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.  He is also a Past President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Dr. Byock is a leading public advocate for improving care through the end of life. His books have become standards in the fields of hospice and palliative care.

Dr. Byock’s keynote address celebrated the work of chaplains. “You have chosen
a difficult career path,” he said, addressing the assembled clinical staff of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network. “
You are professionals who have dedicated so much time and effort to acquire and hone the skills of caring for fellow human beings. There are far easier – and dare I say, more lucrative – ways of making a living than being a health care chaplain.

“The work you do begins with seeming simplicity – by showing up and leaning forward –meeting the other with an open heart. Yet it is not easy, nor is it always safe. It takes a special kind of courage to simply sit with a person who is seriously ill -- or metaphorically walk with a person on a journey that neither of you would choose. Yet this act of accompaniment is the essence of the therapeutic relationship.”

You can link to Ms. Berman's and Dr. Byock's articles.



The Convocation continued with the commissioning of new clinical staff member,
the Rev.Christine Davies, manager, chaplaincy services and ACPE supervisor at
NYU Langone Medical Center. 

The evening concluded by recognizing the following staff members who have reached milestone service anniversaries:  Al-Hajji Imam Yusuf H. Hasan, 20 years; Rabbi David Keehn, 20 years; Rabbi Dr. Bonita E. Taylor, 15 years; The Rev. Daniel Shenk, 10 years;  Luiza Georgescu, 10 years.



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