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UMMC Pediatrician Honored for Compassionate Care

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Dr. Rick Boyte, professor of pediatrics and division chief of pediatric palliative medicine, examines patient Queterrius Ellison, while his father Antonio holds him. Photo credit: The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare

Dr. Rick Boyte, professor of pediatrics and division chief of pediatric palliative medicine at Batson Children’s Hospital, has been named one of six finalists for the 2015 Schwartz Center National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year (NCCY) Award.

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, a national nonprofit leading the movement to bring compassion to every patient-caregiver interaction, selected six health-care providers throughout the U.S. for the prestigious award.

“I am overwhelmed by this honor,” Boyte said. “I cannot think of anything more meaningful in health care than to be identified as a compassionate caregiver.  I am deeply grateful to everyone who supported my nomination. This definitely marks a highpoint in my career.”

Boyte has worked at Batson for more than 20 years and spent the first 16 of those in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. He credits those years and the families he encountered there with steering him towards palliative care.

Palliative care began as an outgrowth of hospice care and was first recognized by the American Board of Medical Subspecialties in 2006.  Unlike hospice care, palliative care begins at diagnosis and is administered concurrently with curative care and regardless of whether the result is death or cure.

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Boyte examines patient Cooper Newell as his mother Noel looks on. Photo credit: The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare

Boyte’s interest in palliative medicine grew into the formation of a pediatric palliative care service in 2009, which began with two full-time, dedicated people – himself and one nurse practitioner – and operated on a consult-only basis.

In the last six years, the program has experienced tremendous growth, now following about 150 patients a year and developing its own inpatient and outpatient service.  The outpatient service includes help for families with children who depend on a ventilator and perinatal and bereavement counseling.

In 2013, Boyte spearheaded efforts to create a fellowship program in pediatric hospice and palliative medicine, one of the first in the country. The program is now hosting its second fellow.

He also spearheaded efforts to bring the Schwartz Center Rounds® program to UMMC. The bi-monthly event is a multidisciplinary forum in which caregivers discuss difficult emotional and social issues that arise in caring for patients. UMMC is the only place in the state that offers the program.

“I had for several years heard about Schwartz Center Rounds at hospitals in other states, so when I was asked to be a physician champion for an effort to bring Schwartz Rounds here, I jumped at it,” Boyte said. “It is a great source of pride for me to have had a role in establishing this important effort to promote compassionate care in Mississippi.”

This year marks the Schwartz Center’s 20th anniversary and the national expansion of the award, which was established to elevate excellence in compassionate care. For the past 16 years, the Schwartz Center has honored outstanding health-care providers who display extraordinary devotion and compassion in caring for patients and families.

The other 2015 NCCY Award finalists are:

  • Melody J. Cunningham, MD, of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
  • Cheryl D. Kane, MEd, BSN, RN, of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program in Boston, Mass.
  • Krista Nelson, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, of Providence Cancer Center in Portland, Ore.
  • Jayne O’Malley, BSN, RN, OCN, of Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, N.Y.
  • Terry Yoas, CNA, of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif.
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Boyte makes morning rounds at Batson Children’s Hospital with his team, from left, Dr. Christian Paine, assistant professor of pediatrics, Regina QaDan, NP, and Dr. Jenna Dear, fellow in pediatric hospice and palliative care. Photo credit: The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare

“These six exceptional caregivers were selected as the 2015 NCCY Award finalists because they epitomize compassionate care through their dedication in providing patients and families with emotional support, mutual trust, respect and compassion,” said Julie Rosen, Executive Director of the Schwartz Center. “We look to honor these special caregivers for the difference they are making in countless lives and for serving as national champions in building a culture of compassion in healthcare.”

The award recipient will be announced on November 18 by award-winning author Atual Gawande at the 20th Annual Kenneth B. Schwartz Compassionate Healthcare Dinner, and will receive a $5,000 monetary prize. The five finalists will receive $1,000 each.

More information about the award and dinner is available at theschwartzcenter.org/award.

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