In November of 1994, Ken Schwartz was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. During his 10-month treatment phase, Schwartz came to realize that what matters most during an illness is the human connection between patients and their caregivers. 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 Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare.
At the end of his life, Schwartz outlined the organization he wanted to create. It would be a center that would nurture compassion in health care, encouraging the type 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.