The Stokes Family Endowed Chair in Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care for The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital celebrated the installation of Dr. Patrick White as the inaugural chairholder. Dr. White’s interest in palliative medicine started at a young age watching his father, a physician, care for patients with chronic illnesses. It was his personal experience at the end of his grandmother’s life that instilled his resolve to change the way people think about of dying in America.
Dr. White graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 2002. In 2007 he received his medical degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. White continued his education with residency training in internal medicine at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis. He completed a fellowship in Palliative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and is currently completing a PhD in Comparative Effectiveness through the University’s Clinical and Translational Science Program. In his current role as Chief Medical Director of BJC Homecare and BJC Hospice, Dr. White supports and provides clinical oversight to more than 650 clinicians caring for more than 11,000 patients annually.
Since joining the faculty of Washington University, Dr. White has received funding for two research initiatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—they are the first in palliative medicine and supportive care for Washington University. He was named one of the 40 under 40 by the St. Louis Business Journal, which introduces a class of 40 young professionals who are already making their mark on the local business community. Dr. White was selected as an Emerging Leader by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He was also appointed by the Governor to the Missouri Palliative Care and Quality of Life Interdisciplinary council and has been selected by the federal government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid as a technical expert to help redesign national quality standards at end-of-life.
In January of 2019, Dr. White was appointed Chief of the Division of Palliative Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. The Division of Palliative Medicine, established officially at the end of 2018, grew from the vision that the exceptional care patients and families receive throughout BJC Healthcare is informed and enhanced by innovative, translational research. While training, medical professionals and future caregivers are taken from bench to bedside to immerse themselves in the science of best practices and the art of compassionate communication. This vision for a comprehensive “Institute” model is being realized as a result of collaboration between the leadership of BJC Healthcare, Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, BJC HomeCare, and The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Palliative care was recognized as a medical subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties in 2006, making it a relatively new area of practice though not necessarily a new idea. The word “palliative” is derived from the Latin root palliare meaning “to cloak”—as in protecting patients from suffering and pain. Palliative medicine proactively emphasizes the importance of addressing patients’ symptoms, using compassionate communication combined with increased psychosocial and spiritual support to provide families with valuable information, comfort, and resources.
The Stokes Family Endowed Chair in Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care was created through a 2018 gift to The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital from Aja and Patrick Stokes. Aja and Pat began championing the need for expanded hospice care in St. Louis after Aja’s sister’s end-of-life experience in a hospice house in Sweden. They led the Foundations’ campaign to build a home for BJC Hospice which culminated with the 2017 opening of Evelyn’s House. Their compassionate supportive care in St. Louis has been a catalyst to create a new model focused on discovery and innovation that invigorates and challenges the status quo to improve the delivery of patient care across all stages of life. The Stokes’ investment in this chair is a direct reflection of their commitment to elevating the important role education and research play in the delivery of palliative and hospice care.
Their philanthropy positions BJC Healthcare and Washington University School of Medicine to influence the national conversation about care at the end-of-life and also for people living with chronic and painful diseases. The evening’s festivities, highlighted by the installation of Dr. Patrick H. White as the inaugural Stokes Family Endowed Chair in Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care, recognize philanthropy as the catalyst, facilitating measurable impact and achieving change here in our community.