The American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN) honored VITAS Healthcare with the 2022 Inclusion & Diversity Excellence Award, presented at AAMN’s annual conference in October. This recognition acknowledges efforts by VITAS, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care, to create and promote diversity, inclusion and a welcoming environment for all nurses.

Traditionally given to individuals, this is the first time the award was presented to a healthcare organization in AAMN’s 50-year history. According to the committee that conducted a blind review of the nomination, VITAS has “raised the bar for any organization that will come after them to receive this award.”

“We are humbled to be the inaugural organization to receive this AAMN accolade,” said Nick Westfall, VITAS President and CEO. “For more than 40 years, VITAS has been committed to leading exemplary work throughout the country to reach all people in the communities we serve, specifically people that are underrepresented and most vulnerable. A diverse workforce is essential for providing better care delivery, and cultivating an inclusive and welcoming environment for our staff empowers them to bring their authentic selves to work.”

The interdisciplinary teams at VITAS practice culturally competent care, ensuring that patients and families are treated with respect. By building meaningful connections, nurses and other clinicians are better able to develop end-of-life care plans that honor the cultural beliefs and values of patients and families.

Examples of collaborative opportunities led by VITAS include:

  • Strategically placing an inpatient unit on a bus route in the South Side of Chicago so families can more easily visit loved ones.
  • Accompanying some of the final surviving Tuskegee Airmen on an Honor Flight to Washington, DC to see the WWII and other war memorials built in their honor.
  • Sending a gas truck to fuel VITAS care teams after Hurricane Harvey as they commute to patients’ homes and senior centers.
  • Partnering with local food banks and churches to provide Thanksgiving meals for those patients and families with identified needs.
  • Working together with organizations like AAMN on national education programs to support their members and clinicians, along with offering End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) curriculums at various national conferences each year.

VITAS has partnered with AAMN since 2016 on various opportunities, such as the ProActive Volunteer Caller (PAVC) Program. Through PAVC, student nurses are engaged to call and provide support for patients and families, many of whom were isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mutually beneficial, nurses have the opportunity to learn in a telehealth setting while hospice patients receive personalized care. PAVC program participants have made more than 650,000 calls to patients and families in the past two years.