Harvey Max Chochinov [PhD/98, MD/83] devotes his life to helping people close to death. The University of Manitoba psychiatrist has altered the attitudes and behaviours of health professionals across Canada and worldwide, creating a better way to care for people who are dying.
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has selected Chochinov to receive the 2012 CMA Frederic Newton Gisborne (FNG) Starr Award. Described as the “Victoria Cross of Canadian Medicine,” this award represents the highest honour that the CMA can bestow upon one of its members. It recognizes Chochinov’s global contribution to palliative care and to raising the profile of personhood throughout all of healthcare.
Chochinov was the first to study the issue of dignity in the terminally ill, which has resulted in a new model of care for patients. In addition to extensive publications that have helped define core competencies of palliative care, his most recent book—Dignity Therapy: Final Words for Final Days—has been hailed in the Journal of the American Medical Association as “inspiring” and “innovative”. He also led a group of national palliative care leaders to create the Canadian Virtual Hospice, an internationally award-winning website that provides support, knowledge exchange, education and the innovative Ask a Professional feature for people with life-limiting illness and those caring for them. More than 1,000 Canadians and people from over 200 countries visit the website daily. By providing equality of access to information and online access to palliative care specialists, Virtual Hospice is changing the landscape of palliative care in Canada.
Chochinov is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba, director of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit at CancerCare Manitoba and the only Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care. His research funding to date for the Faculty of Medicine exceeds $18 million.
“Dr. Chochinov has facilitated tremendous improvements in palliative care on a local and international scale. These changes have made a real difference for individuals as they face the end of their lives,” says Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research and international) and Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba.
The University of Manitoba is embarking on a fundraising campaign to establish an endowed Research Chair in Palliative Care. It will enhance the University of Manitoba’s role as a leader in palliative care research and ultimately improve the care and well-being of the terminally ill.
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