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The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation Broadens Support for Nurse-Led Innovations That Improve End-of-Life Care

Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation
Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation

Continued Collaboration with the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Focuses on Marginalized Communities

NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation (RAHF) today announced the award of seven grants to support bold, early-stage interventions that seek to radically improve the provision of care for the seriously ill and those at the end of life.

These Hillman Emergent Innovation: Serious Illness and End of Life (HSEI) grants will help to catalyze nursing-driven efforts to elevate care for communities that face discrimination and indifference. These include Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC), the economically disadvantaged, LGBTQ people, people experiencing homelessness, low-income rural populations, and other groups that encounter obstacles to quality healthcare.

“Inequity in the delivery of care is one of the glaring weaknesses in the American healthcare system, and the disparities in palliative and end-of-life care are especially stark,” said Ahrin Mishan, Executive Director of The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation. “We are committed to narrowing these gaps and advancing innovative, nursing-driven solutions.”

Philanthropic Partnership Drives Progress

An innovative partnership between The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation and The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, started in 2021, has expanded the number of bold, new interventions that will be fast-tracked through the HSEI program.

“We are proud of our collaboration with The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation,” said the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations President, Michael Murray. “And we are confident the high-impact, innovative work that’s being funded will improve care for the seriously ill and people at the end of their lives.”

A Focus on Breaking Down Barriers to Equitable Care

Structural discrimination, geographic isolation, patient and provider mistrust, and racial and cultural marginalization are just some of the systemic problems being addressed by the newest Hillman Emergent Innovation: Serious Illness and End of Life grantees.

The 2022 grants will support these projects:

  • A Novel Poetic Dignity Therapy Application to Enhance Meaning and Purpose for Sexual and Gender Minority Patients at End of Life

    Sexual and gender minority (SGM) patients are at increased risk for discrimination, stigma, mistreatment, and low-quality care that compromises dignity at the end-of-life. This innovative, nurse-led adaptation of Dignity Therapy will utilize a poetic approach to enhance meaning and purpose among SGM-identified hospice patients.

    Principal Investigators: William Rosa, PhD, MBE, NP, FAANP, FAAN, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Rachel Hadler, MD, University of Iowa

  • Project Sundays: Engaging Rural African American Religious and Spiritual Leaders on Advance Care Planning

    Advance Care Planning (ACP) is complex and challenging for older African Americans (AA) with serious illness in rural communities. This project will explore a new model for developing care conversations with seriously ill AA adults in South Carolina that utilizes trusted local clergy to provide elements of religion and spirituality in ACP.

    Principal Investigator: Tracy Fasolino, PhD, FNP-BC, ACHPN, Clemson University

  • A Community-Based, Collaboratively Designed Communication Guide for Clinicians Working with Refugees with Serious Illness

    Seriously ill refugees are at an especially high risk for negative health outcomes, in part because clinicians do not often share their cultures, languages or communication norms. In this project, clinicians and refugees will collaborate to develop a communication guide that will help assure that care delivery aligns with these patients’ goals and values.

    Principal Investigator: Katherine Doyon, PhD, MEd, RN, CHPN, Boise State University

  • A Culturally Centered Complicated Grief Group Therapy Intervention for Black Americans

    Bereaving Black communities are at heightened risk of Complicated Grief because of historical trauma, systemic racism, mistrust in the healthcare system, and a frequent reluctance to seek mental health care. This project will investigate the experience of Black grievers and use those findings to modify an existing intervention, Complicated Grief Group Therapy, into a culturally centered psychotherapeutic intervention.

    Principal Investigator: Siobhan Aaron, PhD, MBA, RN, FNP-BC, Case Western Reserve University

  • Motivational Advance Care Planning: End-of-Life Preparation for Severe Mental Illness and Life-Threatening Co-Morbidities

    Life-threatening co-morbidities correlate with serious mental illness (SMI), yet care planning is underutilized by individuals with SMI at the end of life. The goal of this project is to develop a motivational interviewing strategy that nurses can use to boost the completion of advance directives for the seriously mentally ill.

    Principal Investigator: Christina Steward-Tiesworth, BSN, RN, PMH-BC, CCM, Hope Network

  • Adapting the Serious Illness Conversation Guide for Older Adults Experiencing Homelessness

    The population of homeless older people continues to grow rapidly, and their physical and mental burdens, combined with challenges in receiving adequate care, contribute to shorter life expectancies than their housing-secure peers. This study seeks to adapt the Serious Illness Conversation Guide, which is primarily used to drive values-based conversations between caregivers and oncology patients, for use with older adults experiencing homelessness to recognize and meet their serious illness needs.

    Principal Investigators: Abigail Latimer, MSW, PhD, LCSW and Debra Moser, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN, University of Kentucky Research Foundation

  • Investigating EMS as an Untapped Resource for Rural POLST Education

    Advance care planning lags in rural America, even though its population is sicker, more impoverished and has less access to healthcare than their urban counterparts. This project seeks to use emergency medical services personnel – often trusted and familiar community members – to educate rural Virginians and Hawaiians about the benefits of completing portable medical orders (POLST) forms, which clarify wishes about receiving life-sustaining treatment.

    Principal Investigator: Kim Callanan, MA, National POLST

About The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation
The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation advances bold, nursing-driven innovations that promote equitable, person-centered, and trustworthy care. It is committed to improving the health and healthcare of all people, especially populations who experience inequity, discrimination, oppression, and indifference. Its goal is to help ignite and develop game-changing interventions and to cultivate a vibrant ecosystem of nurse innovators, grantees, and partners dedicated to building a healthier, more equitable future for all. For more information, please visit

About The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations were organized in 1952 and are supported by two trusts established by Mr. Arthur Vining Davis. The Foundations aim to bear witness to Mr. Davis’ successful corporate leadership and his ambitious philanthropic vision. Since their inception, the Foundations have given over 3,800 grants totaling more than $300 million to colleges and universities, hospitals, medical schools, and divinity schools. For more information, please visit

Media Contact
Takouhi Mosoian, The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation (