Dana-Farber is committed to providing the best possible care to patients from all walks of life. In recent years, the Institute has prioritized expanding its clinical facilities into surrounding communities to better reach medically underserved patients with the Institute’s signature Total Patient Care model, which includes supportive services from the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care (POPC). To further this mission, Institute Trustee Alison Poorvu Jaffe and her husband, Daniel G. Jaffe, recently made a substantial gift to establish the Poorvu Jaffe Chair in Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber and to launch the Initiative to Integrate Supportive Oncology and Health Equity. The initiative is aimed at advancing the Institute’s mission to eliminate racial, socioeconomic, cultural, and other disparities in patient care and outcomes.
Historically, the majority of patients seen by caregivers in POPC have been white, educated, English-speaking patients, most often self-referred and treated on the Longwood campus. This is something the Poorvu Jaffe family would like to see change. As a former patient and longtime supporter of palliative and psychosocial care at Dana-Farber, Poorvu Jaffe knows how integral managing the emotional and physical side effects of cancer treatment is to one’s cancer journey.
“Since I have been connected with Dana-Farber I have been impressed by the Institute’s commitment to treating and supporting the whole person throughout their journey,” said Poorvu
Jaffe, who also recently joined the Dana-Farber Society with a legacy gift through her estate plan. “But I know there is still work to be done to expand access and integrate supportive care for patients who come from underserved backgrounds. Dana-Farber recognizes those barriers to care, such as cultural sensitivities and language, and we wanted to do our part to improve the Institute’s ability to meet the needs of all populations. It was important to know that the health equity initiative does not just focus on getting people into the door once, but on providing them access to the cancer support and care needed throughout their cancer journey.”
The Poorvu Jaffe Chair in Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care is the first chair in this field established at Dana-Farber and one of only a few endowed chairs in palliative care or psychosocial oncology in the country. This permanent endowment will support research and patient care priorities and advance the field of psychosocial oncology and palliative care overall, in perpetuity. The inaugural incumbent is James Tulsky, MD, who serves as chair of POPC.
“James has devoted his career to improving the patient experience,” said Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, president and CEO of Dana-Farber and the Richard and Susan Smith Professor of Medicine. “His work has helped to identify what matters most to patients and how to improve the experience of living with cancer. As the inaugural Poorvu Jaffe Chair, James will continue to innovate and advance this critical field.”
Bolstered by funds from the Poorvu Jaffes’ gift, Tulsky is launching an initiative to ensure that patients from priority neighborhoods in Boston have access to and education about supportive oncology services as part of their cancer treatment, and, ultimately, see Dana-Farber as a trusted provider of choice.
“As the Institute continues to expand its geographic footprint to reach more patients from diverse backgrounds and identities, our team is working to fully integrate psychosocial and palliative services into all aspects of clinical care,” said Tulsky. “The Poorvu Jaffe family’s support through many years has been transformative, and this gift is another example of that.”