Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare

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The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare
Founded 1994
Founder Kenneth B. Schwartz (posthumous)
Type Healthcare-related non-profit organization
  • 205 Portland St., 6th Floor Boston, MA 02114-2792
Area served
U.S.; 230 participating hospitals nationally
Mission To promote compassionate healthcare so that patients and their professional caregivers relate to one another in a way that provides hope to the patient, support to caregivers and sustenance to the healing process.

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare (informally the Schwartz Center; formerly the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center or KBS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting compassion and understanding between patients and caregivers. The Center was founded in 1994 by the family of Kenneth Schwartz, a successful Boston lawyer who was unexpectedly diagnosed with terminal cancer in his early 40s. The Center is dedicated to honoring Ken's memory and encouraging the kind of compassionate and patient-centric healthcare which was of such great comfort to him during his final days.

Operating under the umbrella of Massachusetts General Hospital, the Center is the progenitor of Schwartz Center rounds, a healthcare practice wherein caregivers are provided "a regularly scheduled time during their fast-paced work lives to openly and honestly discuss social and emotional issues that arise in caring for patients."[1] The Center is also involved in supporting clinical pastoral education, issuing grants, and recognizing doctors and caregivers whose compassionate commitment to their patients had a positive clinical and spiritual effect on their treatment.


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Rooted in the experience of one patient, the Center has grown into an organization addressing the universal concerns of many. In November 1994, Boston health care attorney Kenneth Schwartz was diagnosed with lung cancer. His case was riddled with terrible ironies. He was only 40 and a nonsmoker. He ate well and exercised regularly.

During his 10-month ordeal, Ken came to realize that what matters most during an illness is the human connection with professional caregivers. He wrote movingly about his illness and care in an article for The Boston Globe Magazine, “A Patient’s Story.” In it, he reminds caregivers to stay in the moment with patients and how “the smallest acts of kindness made the unbearable bearable.” The piece has become a touchstone for the Center and readers all over the country.

At the end of his life Ken outlined the organization he wanted created. It would be a center that would nurture the compassion in medicine, encouraging the sorts of caregiver-patient relationships that made all the difference to him.


The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare’s Board of Directors, initially composed of Ken's family, friends, and principal caregivers at Massachusetts General Hospital, has grown to 24 members. Committees include Development, Programs, Nominations, and Finance, and are made of up Board members as well as other outside experts.[2]

The organization spends 76% of its yearly revenue on grants and programs.[3]


The largest event organized by the Center is its annual Kenneth B. Schwartz Compassionate Healthcare Dinner. occurring this year on November 17th, it will bring together over two thousand people - including doctors, hospital staff and administrators, members of the insurance industry, and generous members of the community.

Schwartz Center Rounds[edit]

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Schwartz Center Rounds, now taking place at more than 350 healthcare facilities in 33 states, offer healthcare providers a regularly scheduled time during their fast-paced work lives to openly and honestly discuss social and emotional issues that arise in caring for patients. In contrast to traditional medical rounds, the focus is on the human dimension of medicine. Caregivers have an opportunity to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings on thought-provoking topics drawn from actual patient cases. The premise is that caregivers are better able to make personal connections with patients and colleagues when they have greater insight into their own responses and feelings.

A hallmark of the program is interdisciplinary dialogue. Panelists from diverse disciplines participate in the Rounds, including physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, allied health professionals and chaplains. After listening to a panel’s brief presentation on an identified case or topic, caregivers in the audience are invited to share their own perspectives on the case and broader related issues.

The Point of Care Foundation is licensed to provide training and support to organizations running Rounds in the UK.


External links[edit]