News - October 2005

Aetna Awards $2.25 Million in Grants

Aetna, through the Aetna Foundation has awarded $2.25 million in 14 grants for programs across the country that address racial and ethnic health disparities and end-of-life care. Many of the grants are specifically designed to reach across cultural sensitivities to ensure quality care at the end of life.

In Rochester , Aetna awarded $150,000 to the Visiting Nurse Service of Rochester and Monroe County , in collaboration with the University of Rochester Medical Center to develop and implement a home-based palliative care program for patients with advanced cancer and congestive heart failure.

"We believe that the health care system can do better at meeting the needs of the dying, which can include pain and symptom management, help in achieving a sense of control, and support for the emotional and spiritual needs of both patients and their caregivers," said John W. Rowe, M.D., chair and CEO of Aetna. "One of the reasons that Aetna has taken a leadership role on this issue is that we see an important intersection in the need to address racial and ethnic disparities in order to help all Americans cope with the complex and emotional issues associated with the end of life."

Aetna 's new quality of care grant program complements the Aetna Foundation's existing regional grants program, which also focuses on addressing health care disparities. The

14 grants range in dollar amount from $50,000 to $300,000, with most falling in the $150,000 range. Eighty percent of the grants represent funding of brand new initiatives.

"We were surprised and delighted with the strong response to our inaugural quality of care grants program which indicates a shared interest in expanding access to culturally sensitive care, including care at the end of life," noted Marilda Gándara, president of the Aetna Foundation . "We are particularly excited about the potential the funded programs offer for replication nationwide, long-term partnerships and sharing of lessons learned. It is gratifying to see the nonprofit community at the forefront of addressing some of the most critical issues in health care today."

Quality of Care grant programs include development of a best practice model for end-of-life care in urban trauma centers, a video series to help seriously ill adolescents better communicate with their families and doctors, programs to empower African Americans in end-of-life decision-making, palliative care training programs for nurses and social workers and palliative care programs specifically designed for Somali, Hispanic and Asian communities.

About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation is the independent philanthropic organization within Aetna . Founded in 1972, the Foundation seeks to help build healthy communities by funding initiatives that improve the quality of life where our employees and customers work and live. Since 1980, the Aetna Foundation has contributed more than $270 million in grants, scholarships and social investments. The Foundation supports innovative programs that lead the way in improving the quality of health care and reducing disparities among racial and ethnic populations. Additional information about the Aetna Foundation is available at .


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