UND Center for Rural Health to Advance Palliative Care in Rural Communities

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Medicine & Health Sciences


GRAND FORKS, N.D.—The Center for Rural Health (CRH) at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) is one of three entities selected by Stratis Health to lead local implementation in a multi-state project to increase access to palliative care services in rural communities. The CRH, which is also the State Office of Rural Health for North Dakota, received $75,000 from Stratis Health for the 11-month Palliative Care North Dakota Statewide Project. The project aims to build local capacity to cultivate palliative care programs, frame services within emerging payment models, and explore how technology can enhance the quality and efficiency of services.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to improve quality of life and quality of care for people living in rural areas,” said Jody Ward, principal investigator for the CRH project.

Palliative care improves quality of life and quality of care for those with advanced illnesses and complex care needs, as well as their families. It customizes treatment to meet the needs of each person, such as those with multiple chronic conditions, long-term cancer diagnoses, or the frail elderly. This whole-person care seeks to relieve pain, anxiety, and other symptoms, as well as provide emotional and spiritual support, so people can live more comfortably with their illnesses. Studies have shown that palliative care can increase patient satisfaction and reduce 30-day re-hospitalizations and emergency department visits.

“This project will enhance our state’s ability to establish and expand palliative care services in our rural areas,” said Lynette Dickson, associate director of the CRH. “The focus on improving care delivery is so important now. As our rural communities age, the need for palliative care is increasing.”

The three-year project will build skills within the State Offices of Rural Health in North Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin to expand access to rural community-based palliative care services in these states. Each organization will support the launch of palliative care services in five to eight rural communities in its state.


Brenda Haugen

Communications Specialist

UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Center for Rural Health

701.777.6958 direct