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Holly and Bob Miller Fellowship Gift Helps Advance Palliative Care in Vermont

Holly and Bob Miller

Over the last ten years palliative care has been one of the fastest growing trends in health care, seeing an increase of approximately 148 percent in the number of palliative care teams within hospital settings by 2010. However, recruiting such practitioners has been a challenge for Vermont hospitals. A $100,000 gift to the University of Vermont from Holly and Bob Miller of Burlington, Vt., will fund an Advanced Practice Nursing Fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Care at the Vermont Palliative Care Collaborative designed to provide access to quality palliative care for all Vermonters.

The Palliative Care Collaborative is made up of representatives of the UVM College of Nursing and Health Sciences, the UVM College of Medicine, Fletcher Allen Health Care, and the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle counties, as well as individual community members. It was created in 2007 thanks to a $325,000 gift from an anonymous donor. The group has overseen distribution of funds to support medical student events such as Palliative Care Week and a physician fellowship program at UVM/Fletcher Allen, enhancements in UVM’s nursing programs in end-of-life care, and support for VNA’s community outreach through its Madison-Deane Initiative.

The Advanced Practice Nursing Fellowship is a critical education and clinical care component made possible by the Millers, who recognize the needs of end-of-life and palliative care patients. The availability of palliative care for all Vermonters is a priority service goal for the Palliative Care Collaborative and for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which prepares advanced practice nurses.

 “We are excited about the opportunity to support this unique and rare collaboration,” said Holly Miller. “Our gift for this nursing fellowship is given in the spirit of a tribute to these four institutions that have come together to identify the greatest needs around palliative and end-of-life care for our community. We truly believe that this will make a meaningful difference in patient care.”

Holly Miller has been an advocate for the thoughtful and supportive care of individuals nearing their end of life for nearly 30 years. She was a founding director of the Vermont Respite House and has served on many community boards and committees. With a primary focus on palliative and end-of-life care, Miller is a hospice volunteer, a member of the Noyana Hospice choir, and longtime member of the Madison-Deane-Initiative, all programs within the VNA's umbrella of end-of-life care services.

 “Bob and Holly Miller truly understand the critical need for palliative care services as this leadership gift certainly demonstrates,” said Patricia Prelock, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “Their support will help us ensure a specialized and much-needed focus in palliative care for nurse practitioners for years to come.”