First annual Sojourns Award recognizes leadership in palliative care

SEATTLE – The Regence Foundation announced today it has honored Dr. Mimi Pattison, medical director at Franciscan Hospice and Palliative Care in Tacoma, with a Sojourns Award in recognition of her leadership in advancing palliative care in the Puget Sound area. The award includes a $50,000 grant to support continued advancements in palliative care, which Dr. Pattison will donate to the Franciscan Health System’s Foundation to benefit the organization’s hospice and palliative services.

Palliative care is an approach to care that brings holistic relief and comfort to seriously ill patients and their families.  This is the first year of the award, and it is part of The Regence Foundation’s Sojourns grant-making program to promote hospital- and community-based palliative care services.  Through Sojourns, The Foundation aims to help people with life-threatening and incurable illness to access high-quality palliative care in their own communities.

“Dr. Pattison exemplifies the expertise, caring and leadership in palliative care that The Regence Foundation seeks to extend throughout the communities we serve,” said Michael Alexander, Regence Foundation board chairman.

Dr. Pattison originated a screening question for physicians, nurses and other providers now used nationally for palliative care referral: "Would you be surprised if the patient you are examining died in the next year?" This simple and effective question resulted in a 7-fold increase in appropriate hospice referrals through the Palliative Care Outreach program in Franciscan’s primary-medicine clinics. The Palliative Care Outreach program earned national recognition in 2000 upon receiving the American Hospital Association’s Circle of Life Award for innovation in end-of-life care.

In 1998, Dr. Pattison helped launch the first palliative care program in the Northwest, at the Franciscan Health System, and was the first physician to practice palliative medicine in a Washington hospital. Franciscan’s hospice and palliative programs now include hospital-based palliative medicine, community-wide palliative care outreach, inpatient care at Franciscan Hospice House, and in-home hospice services in Pierce, King and Kitsap counties. Under Dr. Pattison’s leadership, Franciscan has become the largest provider of hospice and palliative services in Washington.

“She has not led from behind a desk, but by being in the exam room and personally caring for patients,” said her nominator, Franciscan Health System chief operating officer, Cliff Robertson, MD. “She is a true servant leader.”

In addition to being medical director for Franciscan Hospice and Palliative Care, Dr. Pattison is vice chair of the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission. She was appointed to the commission in 2008 by Governor Chris Gregoire. The commission protects public health and safety by assuring the competency and quality of physicians and physician assistants.

About The Regence Foundation
The Regence Foundation is the corporate foundation of Regence, the largest health insurer in the Northwest/Intermountain region and a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. A 501(c)3 grantmaking organization, the Foundation partners with organizations driving significant change in health care delivery and accessibility in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Through its Sojourns program, the Foundation also supports organizations advancing quality palliative and end-of-life care. For more information visit or