The Center for Healthcare Decisions is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization in Sacramento, California. Established in 1994 as Sacramento Healthcare Decisions, we began our work with two local projects focusing on healthcare reform and end-of-life care.
Our first project related to the Clinton era healthcare reform debate. Exploring personal and societal values, we helped develop an eight-part series in The Sacramento Bee called The Heart of Health Care. But the work that really established our path for many years was the ECHO Project. Responding to national concerns about the use of life-sustaining treatment for dying patients – and who controlled those decisions – we brought together 1,000 community members and healthcare professionals in a three-year effort to improve hospital-based care and communications for those at the end of life. This endeavor sparked tangible changes in local hospitals and became a national model of community collaboration. The ECHO Project led to the creation of the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, a statewide partnership promoting high-quality, compassionate end-of-life care.
As part of the growing interest in the mid-1990s in improving care at the end of life, CHCD played a leadership role in local, state, and national activities. For nearly two decades, we educated thousands of citizens, trained hundreds of health professionals and faith leaders, and worked with healthcare organizations to implement new end-of-life policies and practices. During that time, CHCD established both the Compassionate Care Alliance of the Greater Sacramento Area and the Sacramento Area POLST Coalition to help move this important work forward. By 2014 CHCD had transitioned its education and outreach activities to other organizations, including the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.
Beginning in 1999 CHCD expanded its focus beyond end-of-life care to issues related to the rising cost of health care. Through a number of projects, we introduced the public to the concept of setting priorities when resources are limited. This work has broadened our reach from primarily regional to an organization with state and national impact.