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On behalf of Cambia Health Foundation, I’m so pleased to introduce the first issue of our quarterly newsletter. Here we will provide updates about recent strategic investments and share success stories of our partners in philanthropy -- our grantees. These amazing organizations work endlessly to improve the lives of the families and individuals they serve.

Cambia Health Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Cambia Health Solutions – a total health solutions company dedicated to transforming our fragmented and economically unsustainable health care system into one that is affordable, seamless and consumer-centric. Our approach is to understand what matters most to people and their families and to promote health care experiences that meet their needs.

We first expressed this approach by promoting palliative care for patients with serious illness.

At Cambia, we believe that palliative care is an important catalyst for honoring patient choices and understanding personal definitions of quality, rather than focusing solely on the clinical aspects of serious illness. Palliative care provides an extra layer of support throughout the continuum of an illness. It encourages patients to express their wishes while addressing their physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs. We know that a person-focused, integrated approach to care leads to a better quality of life, reduced stress and a feeling of empowerment for everyone involved in the process: patients, their families and caregivers.

And so our journey began in 2008 when Cambia Health Foundation launched our signature Sojourns program, making our first grant in 2009 to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital to fund the Bridges pediatric palliative care program. We also provided seed funding to develop, plan and implement inpatient palliative care programs in regional hospitals. In 2010, we created our Sojourns Awards to annually recognize established palliative care leaders in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

In 2011, we partnered with The National Journal to conduct a nationwide opinion poll, the results of which overwhelmingly demonstrated that Americans want a more open public dialogue about end-of-life and palliative care – and believe such discussions should be fully covered by both Medicare and private insurance. It also demonstrated gaps in workforce development and capacity to have the conversations that patients want.

In 2014, our Foundation invested $10 million to create the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence at the University of Washington, a national hub to advance palliative care training, innovation, research and leadership. That same year we expanded our Sojourns Awards program in a new direction by introducing the Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program and investing in the work and development of emerging palliative care leaders from across the country. With mentoring from a renowned group of Advisory Committee members, our scholars are doing ground-breaking work in palliative care and policy.

Now that doctors are able to receive reimbursement for palliative care discussions with patients, in early 2016 we collaborated with two other foundations to conduct a national poll of palliative care physicians. Learn about the poll findings.

Since our initial investment in 2009, Cambia Health Foundation has invested nearly $30 million through more than 90 grants to advance palliative care. I’m proud of the great work and spirit of collaboration from our partners in this challenging – but not impossible – effort, where there’s more to accomplish. People facing serious illness deserve to have access to the most compassionate and personalized care our industry can offer them.

Important to our progress on this path is sharing examples of what’s working and what’s not, from the perspective of providers, patients and family members in their curative and end-of-life experiences. So this newsletter also will be a vehicle for storytelling, to continue the dialogue and underscore the personal nature of our work.

Each newsletter will provide recent highlights of one of our three funding tracks – whether it’s palliative care, children’s behavioral health or transforming health care. Working in collaboration with a wide variety of stakeholders, we strive to turn innovation into impact and provide everyone access to the kind of care each of us wants for ourselves and our loved ones.

On March 31, the Cambia Health Foundation Board approved new investments totaling $1,560,519 to: advance national palliative care quality, access and understanding; transform health care to a more person-focused and equitable system; and continue support of the Oregon Healthiest State initiative, working toward optimal health and well-being for all Oregonians.

In February and March, Cambia Health Foundation, The John A. Hartford Foundation and California Health Care Foundation commissioned a national, palliative care poll – a telephone survey of 736 physicians in all 50 states who see patients 65 and older. Undem Research/Communication conducted the poll, called "Conversation Stopper: What’s Preventing Physicians from Talking with Patients about End-of-Life and Advance Care Planning?"

Among the findings of "Conversation Stopper": While virtually all doctors who see Medicare patients consider end-of-life and advance care planning conversations important, many physicians report significant barriers to having these discussions with their patients, and nearly half (46%) report that they frequently or sometimes feel unsure of what to say.

In 2011 Cambia Health Foundation partnered with The National Journal to conduct a three-part series of national polls called "Living Well at the End of Life: A National Conversation." Those results demonstrated overwhelmingly that Americans wanted a more open public dialogue about the issues and options surrounding end-of-life and palliative care, and believed such discussions should be fully covered by both Medicare and private insurance.

Five years later, in January 2016 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began paying doctors for leading advance care planning discussions, a benefit that covers multiple conversations and is not limited to patients who are close to death.

In early 2016, Cambia Health Foundation joined The John A. Hartford Foundation and California Health Care Foundation to sponsor the national survey of primary care and specialist physicians to gauge their awareness, attitudes and use of the new benefit.

Virtually all physicians consider advance care planning and end-of-life conversations important, and three-quarters predict that the new Medicare benefit for these discussions will make them more likely to talk with older and seriously ill patients about what they want from their care. Still, physicians indicate significant barriers to these interactions, and only 14% report they had billed Medicare for an advance care planning conversation since reimbursement began three months earlier.

See full report on the survey findings and read the national news release.

The next step of this effort will be national focus groups, also commissioned by the three foundations and slated for 2016.

Food Lifeline

Nearly one in five children in Washington State lives in a family that struggles to put food on the table on a regular basis. Inexpensive fast food or junk food is typically more convenient and accessible for low-income populations. And because children’s bodies and brains are developing, lack of nourishment can affect their health and force them to fall behind in virtually every way–physically, behaviorally and academically.

According to Rebecca Schlaht of Skagit County Helping Hands Food Bank, 43% of its clients are children and the food bank struggles to have enough fruit for them.

Cambia Health Foundation partnered with Seattle-based Food Lifeline to address this challenge with an innovative solution. Food Lifeline is a nonprofit food distribution center that gathers good food from manufacturers, farmers, grocery stores and restaurants that might otherwise go to waste. It then redirects the food to hungry, low-income families in Western Washington.

With the support of a $200,000 grant from Cambia Health Foundation, in April 2014 Food Lifeline launched the Nourishing Healthy Kids Produce Initiative. This effort will improve children's health by offering more fresh fruits and vegetables at their local food bank or meal program and through Food Lifeline's direct distribution programs.

In the past, Food Lifeline was able to source one or two truckloads of fresh produce per month. But the Nourishing Healthy Kids Produce Initiative works with farmers and other produce distributors to bring in two additional truckloads of produce each week–an increase of almost one million pounds of fresh produce annually.

A truckload of fresh, hand-picked peaches was delivered from Fresno, California, via the Feeding America’s Choice System. The peaches were then distributed to children and families throughout Food Lifeline’s network of agencies, including the Des Moines Area Food Bank Summer Meal Program, Griffin Home for Boys, YouthCare Orion Center and the Seattle Children’s Home.

Fresh grapefruit was another delivery that arrived to enthusiastic reviews. "The grapefruits were a special treat for our clients, as I haven't seen them here before in that volume," said Schlaht of Helping Hands. "We put them in our backpacks that go to 75 children."

Sky Valley Food Bank in Monroe also expressed gratitude for grapefruit. "We have a real problem getting fresh produce," says Executive Director Neil Watkins. "The grapefruit went out as fast as we got it in."

Between July 1, 2015, and Feb. 29, 2016, Food Lifeline was able to bring in 25 truckloads of fresh produce totaling 950,000 pounds.

"Hunger is not about lack of food, it is about of lack of access," said Linda Nageotte, president and CEO of Food Lifeline. "Nourishing Healthy Kids is designed to improve access to fresh foods for children and families in need, which has mutual benefit for both farmers who grow these foods, families and the community at large."

Khalid Osman, Neighborcare Health medical assistant, and Steve Lesky, Cambia Health Foundation program officer, at the Jan. 23 grand opening of the Meridian Center for Health in Seattle. This new Federally Qualified Health Center fully integrates comprehensive services for a one-stop, total health and wellness experience.

Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner speaks to an overflow crowd of more than 1,200 at the Blue Zones Project Kickoff in Klamath Falls, Ore., on March 12. Klamath Falls is the first Blue Zones Project demonstration community in support of the Oregon Healthiest State initiative.

Communities United's lead community health worker Teresa Reyes presents an overview of the Community to Clinic to Care Program to more than 70 nonprofit and government leaders in Salt Lake County on March 23. Cambia Healthcare Foundation is partnering with Communities United and Utah Partners for Health to pioneer an innovative model of health care delivery through the use of community-based health workers.

Cambia Health Foundation board member Jennifer Danielson presents a $124,000 check to Jennifer Sadoff, CEO of Moab Regional Hospital in Moab, Utah, on April 8. The grant supports the integration of behavioral health care into primary care practices to streamline the continuum of care for local youth and adolescents who may need support or treatment for a mental health concern.

Cambia Health Foundation is the corporate foundation of Cambia Health Solutions, a total health solutions company dedicated to transforming the way people experience health care. A 501(c)(3) grant-making organization based in Portland, Ore., Cambia Health Foundation strategically invests and partners with organizations to advance national palliative care quality, access and understanding; improve the behavioral and mental health of underserved children; and transform health care to a more person-focused, equitable and economically sustainable system. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter.