Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation Announces Grants Totaling $1.275 Million for Nursing-Driven Innovation and COVID-19 Response

Awards support work to improve care and address impact of the pandemic on vulnerable and underserved populations

NEW YORK, Nov. 24, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation (RAHF) is announcing grants totaling $1,275,000 to support innovative, nurse-driven healthcare programs serving vulnerable populations, including four awards for interventions focused on mitigating health disparities exacerbated by COVID-19.

“2020 has laid bare the deep inequities that plague our nation’s healthcare system,” said Ahrin Mishan, Executive Director of the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to promoting bold, new initiatives that seek to build a healthier, more just future for all.”

Supporting Early-Stage Ideas to Fuel Innovation
The RAHF awards include three grants in the Hillman Emergent Innovation (HEI) Program and four in the Hillman Serious Illness and End of Life Emergent Innovation (HSEI) Program, which launched in 2018. In addition, the foundation made four grants specifically to improve care for vulnerable populations hit hard by the pandemic, including an HSEI grant to Brigham and Women’s Hospital to improve outreach for serious illness conversations in the time of COVID-19, and a special award to the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) to improve care for racial and ethnic minorities in long-term care facilities.

Both the HEI and HSEI programs support early-stage (pre-evidence or untested) innovations that target vulnerable populations, including groups that are economically disadvantaged, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ people, people experiencing homelessness, rural populations, and others.

“While the Hillman Foundation has long recognized the critical work of nurses, the pandemic has brought their importance to light,” said Rachael Watman, RAHF Vice President of Programs. “We are privileged to work with nurses who use insight, innovation, and ingenuity to improve care for people in need—especially now.”

Addressing COVID-19, Fewer Maternal Deaths, More Inclusive Telehealth, Better Nurse-Patient Matching
The following projects represent some of this year’s exciting nursing innovation grantees. (For a complete list, please visit the foundation’s website.)

  • Serious Illness Conversation Outreach in the Time of COVID-19
    Vulnerable patients are more likely to die from COVID-19, often without Advance Care Planning. Nurse care coordinators in the integrated Care Management Program (iCMP) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital will help ensure opportunities to have serious illness conversations and share values and goals. One-time grant award of $200,000. 
    Principal Investigator: Rachelle Bernacki, MD, MS, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Amy Bulgar, RN, MPH, CPHQ, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Advancing Nurse-Led Palliative Care in Minority-Serving Long-Term Care Facilities
    The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) has been a leader in providing person-centered palliative care during the pandemic, including disseminating their tool kits and consultations free of charge. Many nurses have been using CAPC resources or requesting consultation via virtual “office hours.” CAPC will create a Long-Term Care Nursing Leadership Circle to provide virtual expert guidance, tools and resources, and peer mentoring to a national cohort of nurse leaders to alleviate suffering and improve the quality of care for racial and ethnic minorities and low-income patients with COVID-19 who reside in long-term care (skilled nursing and assisted living facilities). Grant award of $125,000.
    Principal Investigator, Diane Meier, MD, Director, Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC)
  • Obstetrics COVID Innovation Collaborative: COVID-19 and the Momentum for Better Maternal Health Care 
    The Obstetrics COVID Innovation Collaborative seeks to provide health system leaders and policymakers with a better understanding of what investments are likely to be most impactful during the acute crisis and what changes are likely to be sustained beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant award of $50,000.
    Principal Investigator: Neel Shah, MD, Ariadne Labs
  • Nursing in a Pandemic, Coronavirus Response Fund: Coming to the Aid of America’s Nurses
    Supporting innovative partnerships with mental health providers to deliver behavioral health assistance that nurses desperately need at this time. Grant award of $50,000.
    The American Nurses Foundation (ANF) and the American Nurse Association (ANA) 
  • A Nurse-Led, Home-Based Palliative Care Pilot to Improve the Quality of Life for Patients with Advanced Dementia in Rural Populations
    Through nurse and social worker-led assessments, interventions, and conversation, people living with dementia and their families will better understand the disease and complete Advanced Care Planning directives in an effort to reduce caregiver burden and prevent avoidable emergency department visits and hospitalizations. Grant award of $50,000 grant for 18-24 months. 
    Principal Investigator: Lori Scoville RN, BSN, CHPN, Snowline Hospice
  • Photovoice: An Intervention for Aligning Goals of Care within Seriously Ill African American Dyads
    Photovoice uses photographs and narrative recording methods to help people living with serious illness and their family caregivers understand and communicate what is important during this time of life. Grant award of $50,000 for 18-24 months.
    Principal Investigator: Susan DeSanto-Madeya, PhD, APRN-CNS, FAAN, University of Rhode Island College of Nursing
  • A Nurse-Led Intervention for Fear of Progression in Advanced Cancer
    Up to 70% of patients with advanced cancer fear that their disease will progress or return. This study will test a nurse-led videoconferencing intervention for patients with advanced gynecologic or lung cancer, including in an under-resourced community. Grant award of $50,000 for 18-24 months.
    Principal Investigator: Anne Reb, PhD, City of Hope
  • A Nurse-Led Storytelling Intervention for Rural Pediatric Palliative Care Populations
    Legacy-making activities, such as digital storytelling, can help decrease suffering for children with life-threatening conditions and for their caregivers. This program will test the intervention for the first time in a rural setting. Grant award of $50,000 for 18-24 months.
    Principal Investigator: Terrah Foster Akard, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN, Vanderbilt University
  • Adapting the NFP Model to Include an Interdisciplinary Approach and Skilled Nursing Care to Reduce Pregnancy-Related Morbidity and Mortality in African American Women 
    Due to implicit bias, structural racism, and frequent comorbidities, African American mothers-to-be face an elevated risk of death regardless of their socioeconomic status. The new model includes outreach, education, and nurse home visits. Grant award of $50,000 for 18-24 months.
    Principal Investigator: Nastassia Davis, DNP, MSN, RN, IBCLC, Montclair State University
  • Expanding Primary Care for People with Disabilities through Nurse-Led Telehealth
    A telehealth program to provide primary and specialty care for an underserved population of people with intellectual disabilities and autism in community-based group home settings. Grant award of $50,000 for 18-24 months.
    Principal Investigator: Tine Hansen-Turton FAAN, Woods Services Inc.
  • Precision Matching of Nurses with Vulnerable Patients in Low-Resource Settings for Optimal Outcomes
    Evidence-based nurse-patient matching software helps reduce adverse events and avoidable costs for minority patients (who disproportionately suffer bad outcomes) and where nursing resources are scarce (such as rural and safety net hospitals). Grant award of $50,000 for 18-24 months.
    Principal Investigator: Andrew Dierkes, PhD, RN, Nursing Analytics, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
  • Chronic Illness Management among San Francisco and Oakland’s Houseless Population
    A partnership of UCSF School of Nursing and Lava MaeX, an organization that provides mobile hygiene services two days a week to the houseless population of San Francisco and Oakland. This Catalyst award will help UCSF Street Nursing improve care transitions by partnering with the UCSF Emergency Department Navigation Team’s ED Information Exchange (EDIE) program. Grant award of $300,000 for 12-18 months.
    Principal Investigators: Laura Wagner PhD, GNP and Heather Leutwyler, RN, PhD, NP, UCSF School of Nursing

About the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation
The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of patients and their families through nursing-driven innovation. To this end, the foundation cultivates nurse leaders, supports nursing research, and disseminates new models of care that are critical to making the U.S. healthcare system more patient-centered, accessible, equitable, and affordable. The foundation’s goal is to leverage the power of nursing’s unique knowledge to ensure that the healthcare system can deliver the high-quality care patients need and deserve. For more information, please visit www.rahf.org.

Media Contact
Linda Le, Vice President of Operations, the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation (innovationsincare@rahf.org)