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State's first palliative fellowship appointed as industry looks to solve costs of end-of-life care

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Hospice and palliative care in New Jersey, increasingly recognized as an alternative to the state's long history of delivering high-cost, medically intensive end-of-life care, is getting further support with the appointment of the state's first hospice and palliative care physician fellowship.

Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice, in collaboration with the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, announced Jennifer Chiesa is the first hospice/palliative care fellow in New Jersey. Her one-year fellowship program started July 1, the same day the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey's SOM in Stratford became RowanSOM.

Chiesa is a 2010 graduate of the Stratford medical school, and completed her residency at Christiana Care Health System, of Newark, Del.

National training requirements effective in 2014 require all American Osteopathic Association candidates for board certification in hospice and palliative medicine to complete a one-year fellowship following their residency training.

"It is our belief that this type of patient care is desperately needed, especially in the face of our growing geriatric population," said Joanne Kaiser-Smith, RowanSOM's assistant dean of graduate medical education, in a statement "Patients receiving palliative care benefit by increased communication, care plan guidance, discharge planning, and pain and symptom management."

Samaritan will serve as the program's principal training site. Samaritan hospice and palliative physician Marianne Holler, a professor at RowanSOM, is the fellowship director.

This year, Holler was named Physician of the Year during the NJBIZ Healthcare Heroes event. Additional participating training sites include Virtua and Lourdes Health System.

"It's so exciting, after 18 months of planning, to see this program approved and operational," Holler said. "It's a very positive first step in addressing a huge shortfall within this new medical specialty."

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