DEI Faculty Spotlight - Patrick Coyne, MSN

Natalie Wilson
February 17, 2022
Patrick Coyne spotlight graphic

As part of the Department of Medicine’s goal to promote a culture that values and honors diversity, equity, and inclusion, we’re “spotlighting” DOM faculty, trainees and staff who are engaged in academic and community work that supports diversity, equity and inclusion.

Read an interview below with Patrick Coyne., MSN, ACNS-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN, assistant professor and director of the palliative care program at MUSC Health, about his work to help advance palliative care in Kenya.

Advancing Palliative Care in Kenya:

Mr. Coyne has worked diligently during his career to improve pain management and palliative care both nationally and internationally. Since joining MUSC in 2015, MUSC’s palliative care program has expanded rapidly under Coyne’s direction. Today, he oversees and works with an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals in providing exceptional palliative care for a program he developed, which includes a pediatric telehealth and an outpatient component. He is also a co-primary investigator on several grants focused on educating rural and community advanced practice registered nurses and health providers on primary palliative care.

As a member of the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) faculty, Mr. Coyne has been working with Living Room Ministries International in Kenya to provide palliative care education to nurses and health care providers for nearly a decade.

Founded in 2009, Living Room Ministries International provides palliative care services to thousands of people in Western Kenya through two in-patient facilities, a regional funeral home and home-based care programs. They also offer a training institute for health care workers, caregivers, and community members to be empowered with knowledge and skills in palliative care services. 

In 2019, Living Room Ministries opened its second inpatient facility - a 60-bed palliative care hospital in Eldoret. However, with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, nearly all education came to a halt. Immediately, Mr. Coyne and Juli Boit, Living Room Founder and International Director, began brainstorming to figure out how to train the hospital’s newly hired staff. Their solution was to partner with the MUSC palliative care team on a virtual seminar series to educate providers on both sides about the unique challenges each country faces and to gain new perspectives.

Held once a month, each virtual session focuses on a different topic. MUSC Palliative Care fellows, nurse practitioners, chaplains, and Mr. Coyne himself have each taught several of the classes alternating with physicians and chaplains from the Living Room. “Usually, one site prepares a case study and the other one talks through it, so it has been cooperative on both sides for teaching,” says Coyne.

“During the first session, members of each team described where they worked, what their roles were, what an average day was like, and the needs and challenges of their local populations. And then we went into topics like pain management, symptom management, cultural challenges, spiritual issues, and communication strategies for talking to patients and families. Most recently, the topic was on dying and the different rituals that exist in both cultures. Our pediatric program at MUSC has been very involved as well, so we usually dedicate a part of each hour to different issues related to children,” says Coyne.

“I feel like this has been an excellent opportunity for our palliative care team to gain awareness of what it would be like to practice internationally and has allowed for some interesting discussions on both sides. In Kenya, they are treating things like leprosy that we have never seen. They also see a lot of tuberculosis cases and have a lot of challenges with wound care that we don’t have here in the United States. We have medications they don't have, and they've got medications we don't have, so it has been interesting to hear their experiences with those,” he adds.

 “Originally my goal was to try to develop some partnerships outside of the United States to give the team different experiences. In the future, I'd like to see this partnership evolve to where (in a world without COVID) there is an opportunity to cross the oceans and do some training on both sides - a few of their staff could come spend a week or two here and vice versa. I know when I go over there, I always learn and come back with new ideas and I often feel very thankful for what I have,” Coyne says.

To learn more about Living Room Ministries, visit:

Pat Coyne with group 
Patrick Coyne (3rd from the right in green) with the group who last travelled to Kenya to teach Palliative Care classes in 2019.

New Pediatric Unit in Kenya 
New pediatric unit at Living Room Ministries International in Kenya.