In November of 1994, Ken Schwartz was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. His case was riddled with terrible ironies. He was only 40 and a nonsmoker. He ate well and exercised regularly. He could have been any one of us.
During his 10-month ordeal, Ken came to realize that what matters most during an illness is the human connection between patients and their caregivers. He wrote movingly about his experience in an article for the Boston Globe Magazine entitled A Patient’s Story. In it, he reminds caregivers to stay in the moment with patients and how “the smallest acts of kindness” make “the unbearable bearable.” His commentary has become a touchstone for the Center and readers all over the country and the world.
At the end of his life, Ken outlined the organization he wanted to create. It would be a center that would nurture the compassion in healthcare, encouraging the sorts of caregiver-patient relationships that made all the difference to him. He founded the Schwartz Center in 1995 – just days before his death – to ensure that all patients receive compassionate and humane care.
The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare’s mission is simple but compelling: to promote compassionate care so that patients and their caregivers relate to one another in a way that provides hope to the patient, support to caregivers and sustenance to the healing process.