St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children celebrating inaugural Palliative Care Month

Photo credit: St. Mary’s Hospital for Children

The St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children is honoring its families and staff throughout the month of November as part of New York state’s first-ever Palliative Care Month. Among the workers being recognized are nurses, home care aides, therapists and social workers who provide excellent palliative care to some of the most critically ill and injured children in the state.

A large spectrum of services is encompassed within palliative care. It is often provided at the same time as when a child undergoes curative treatment for their illnesses. The goal of palliative care is to provide patients with the best quality of life possible, ensuring that the they and their family feel supported throughout the diagnosis.

St. Mary’s is proud to offer the highest quality of care to medically complex children and their families who are facing tremendous challenges,” Mary’s Healthcare System for Children President and CEO Dr. Edwin Simpser said. “It is our hope that our work will show families and the public the incredible benefits of pediatric palliative care, demystifying the misconception that palliative care is exclusively with end-of-life care.”

St. Mary’s is New York City’s only provider of rehabilitative and long-term care for children. In 1984, St. Mary’s created the first pediatric palliative care program in the United States. It was created to provide support to families and help manage the pain and stress of serious, long-term health conditions.

When the unfortunate circumstances are met, the hospital will also assist families in end-of-life preparations, remembrance rituals and the grieving process. Many different belief systems around end-of-life care are navigated by the staff. The tremendous religious diversity among those in New York City are accommodated to by the workers through the engagement of religious leaders and participation in a wide array of end-of-life practices.

According to the hospital, many families who participated in pediatric palliative care there said they were encouraged by the program to make the most of their child’s life. These families also said it allowed them to process their grief in a peaceful and supportive environment.

Since the 1870s, St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children has been the primary provider of long-term and rehabilitative care for New York’s most critically ill and injured children. It is one of only a handful of organizations around the country dedicated to providing intensive rehabilitation, specialized care and education to children with special needs and life-limiting conditions.