PORTLAND, ME | May 2, 2007
Physicians, nurses, and other health professionals involved in caring for critically ill children will gather later this month for an intensive educational retreat designed to enhance communication skills and improve relationships with children and families. The workshop is the 11th such session conducted by the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Education Development Center (EDC) in concert with children’s hospitals and other health care organizations around the country.
The retreat will be held May 21-23 at the University of New England and will include practitioners and family members from all six New England states. The retreat is hosted by the Jason Program, a pediatric palliative care center in Maine.
Making this session unique is that parents who have experienced the life-threatening illness or death of their child will serve as active participants alongside pediatric experts, sharing intimate knowledge of approaches to care and the impact on patients and families. The goal of the retreat is to build the skills of health care professionals, promote effective dialogue between clinicians and families, and ultimately to improve the care provided to very ill children, 55,000 of whom die in the U.S. every year.
“Medical care for seriously ill children is often lacking in what may be called ‘the human touch,’” said David Browning, Director of the Initiative for Pediatric Palliative Care at EDC which developed the program. “Veteran physicians who have taken this course tell us how it changed them personally and altered their practice forever in how they approach a dying patient. This is a very powerful experience.”
Organizations participating include Maine Medical Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (NH), Fletcher-Allen (VT), Baystate Childrens Center and Massachusetts General Hospital (MA), Hasbro Hospital (RI), Yale New Haven Hospital (CT), and several health centers and hospice organizations.
“As health care providers, we know there is no loss more difficult than the loss of a child, and no area of health care more challenging than the care of children with life-threatening conditions,” said Dr. Kate Eastman, of the Jason Program. “This unique session allows us to learn from one another by bringing family members together with physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and others,” she said.
The Initiative for Pediatric Palliative Care (IPPC) is a national education and quality improvement effort aimed at enhancing family-centered care for the most seriously ill children. IPPC is a collaboration of EDC, The New York Academy of Medicine, the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions, the Society of Pediatric Nurses, and the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, with major funding provided by the Aetna Foundation.