Palliative care in an underserved community: Striving and thriving


Palliative care in an underserved community: Striving and thriving


Alladin A R; Juanico K; Webster-Carrion A; Nares M; Cantwell G P






awareness; bereavement support; bone marrow; cancer patient; Caribbean; child; childhood cancer; conference abstract; congenital malformation; coordination compound; ethnic group; Europe; female; heart; Hispanic; hospice; hospital patient; human; Japan; kidney; liver; major clinical study; male; medicaid; memory; Middle East; music therapy; neonatal intensive care unit; newborn; nursing education; pain; palliative therapy; pastoral care; perception; posthumous care; resident; sibling; social work; terminal care; terminally ill patient


Program Goals: Our program is uniquely positioned in a safety net hospital that serves as a large tertiary referral center for pediatric transplant, trauma and heart failure as well as being an international catchment area for the southern hemisphere. Meeting the palliative care needs of our medically complex and chronically ill children proves to be a tremendous challenge, oftentimes made worse by the fact that our most technology dependent children may be uninsured with families that have little to no resources. Despite the complexity of our population and our many financial and socioeconomic constraints, we have a burgeoning Pediatric Palliative Care (PPC) Service that strives to provide quality independent of our patients' circumstances. Evaluation: In 2008, we sought to institute PPC without having dedicated FTE's. By 2013, we had convened a consistent team with existing staff and improved the awareness and importance of palliative care. Our program has experienced significant growth and now consists of one full time PPC Nurse, one volunteer faculty physician, child life, music therapy, behavioral health, pastoral care, social work and volunteer services. In 2016, our team received 176 consults - a 76% increase from our initial efforts in 2013. The majority were for Pediatric Transplant patients including Bone Marrow, Cardiac, Renal, Liver, Intestinal and Multivisceral, accounting for 23% of our total. Pediatric Oncology was our next most frequent category at 20%. The third most common consultation was for complex congenital malformations and syndromes from the Neonatal ICU at 11%. 79% of our consults consisted of ethnic minorities (Black and Hispanic). Historically, our institution serves 80% Medicaid and 3% unfunded patients. Approximately 20% of our patient population consists of international referrals and in 2016 our consults included patients from the Middle East, Caribbean, South and Central America, Europe and Japan. Our services to patients include coordination of complex care, discharges to hospice, pain and symptom management, family and sibling support, field trips and even meal, transportation and gym access vouchers. We have facilitated international medical transportation of terminally ill children back to their countries of origin to provide a peaceful death surrounded by loved ones in a familiar environment. From our cumulative PPC census, there were 90 deaths in 2016. All members of our team assisted with inpatient end of life care, memory building, bereavement services and even funeral arrangements and expenses where possible.


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Alladin A R; Juanico K; Webster-Carrion A; Nares M; Cantwell G P, “Palliative care in an underserved community: Striving and thriving,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed December 3, 2023,