All Children's Hospital Telethon

Palliative Care

All Children's Hospital Guild Pledge Underwrites Palliative Care

Palliative Care Shell

Mention the words "palliative care," and many people immediately think of hospice and end-of-life services.

In truth, it's so much more.

Patients with life-limiting or potentially life-threatening illnesses and injuries stand to benefit from the new All Children's Palliative Care Program. This includes preemies, pediatric ICU patients with life-threatening infections or injuries, youngsters with cystic fibrosis, cancer or kidney disease, heart transplant recipients, patients with complex neurologic problems or genetic syndromes - almost half of all the patients admitted to All Children's for care.

The Pediatric Palliative Care Program is made possible through a $900,000 pledge from the All Children's Hospital Guild - 450 volunteer advocates in four counties throughout the Tampa Bay area who have contributed more than $10-million for hospital programs and expansion since 1985.

"The Pediatric Palliative Care program provides a coordinated, comprehensive and above all compassionate approach to caring for children with life-limiting or potentially life-threatening illnesses and injuries," said Tricia Davidson, Chair of the All Children's Hospital Guild. "All nine branches of our Guild will contribute to this pledge to enable the Palliative Care program to grow so that it can help more patients and their families."

The program provides support through a team including a doctor, nurse, social worker, child life therapist, chaplain and pain management nurse. Together, they address concerns of pain management, symptom control and quality of life for patients. The goal is to help children and their families live as normal a life as possible.

"We strive to reduce pain and suffering while supporting both the patient and family in making decisions about care," explains program director Laura Drach, MD. "Throughout this process, we're always mindful of each family's choices, values and cultural traditions. Our program gives support not only to the patient and parents, but to siblings and grandparents as well."

In addition to underwriting these much-needed and often underfunded support services, the Guild gift creates an endowment to ensure that the program will grow in the future through a Palliative Care Fellowship to provide training, enhanced patient care, valuable medical research and education in Palliative Care.

Above all, the Pediatric Palliative Care Program at All Children's demonstrates a core commitment - that caring doesn't end when curative care options are exhausted.

Perhaps the late author and pediatric palliative care advocate Mattie Stepanek (1990-2004) summed it up best:

"Palliative care no longer means helping children die well, it means helping children and their families to live well and then, when the time is certain, to help them die gently."

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