Palliative Care

“Pediatric palliative care is about whole child, whole family care. We recognize that each child is much more than his or her medical diagnosis. We strive to partner together with families and primary teams to honor each family’s hopes and each child’s quality of life.”

–Meaghann Weaver, MD MPH, Chief, Division of Pediatric Palliative Care, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

Facing your child’s serious illness is about more than symptoms and treatments. It’s about coping with uncertainty in what’s likely the toughest experience you’ve ever had.

You are not alone in this journey.

The Hand in Hand Palliative Care team at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center is here to make sure your child is comfortable, and their time is spent with their favorite activities, toys, making memories, and feeling love from family and friends.

Make An Appointment

We accept patients by referral; please contact your child’s doctor. For more information about Palliative Care at Children’s, call 402-955-5428.

Your child’s quality of life and your peace of mind is our top priority. We support families by:

  • Helping your child be as active as possible
  • Allowing you to spend more time being parents rather than care coordinators
  • Preparing you for potential crises
  • Helping you with making medical decisions

From day one, when your child starts receiving palliative care, we will have honest and compassionate communication with both you and your child to help you understand their condition, treatment, and what these could mean for the future.

Your family’s values, hopes, and wishes are important to us. We will explore care options with your family, including walking with you as you face advance care planning, such as long-term care.

Your child will receive palliative care in addition to any treatments they are already undergoing for their condition. We recognize the important role of your child’s specialists and integrate our services seamlessly with other departments by:

  • Staying in touch with your child’s primary and specialty care providers
  • Offering integrative therapies — such as pet therapy and relaxation techniques — to relieve symptoms and find peace in mind

What Sets Children’s Apart?

Our palliative care team is made up of specialists who are ready to address the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of you and your child. Team members may include:

Our providers have been recognized with several awards, including a Nebraska Hospice and Palliative Care Association Shining Star Award (2013) and the American Hospital Association Circle of Life Citation of Honor Award (2018).

Services We Provide

We offer a variety of inpatient services, including:

Care Plans

An individualized palliative plan of care is created for your child based on your family’s goals and wishes. The care plan is available for all caregivers to see and is updated at each inpatient stay, clinic visit, or whenever your family requests a revision.

Support Services

From decision making to coping with emotional challenges, our support services are designed to support the entire family through this difficult journey. These services include:

  • Emotional and spiritual care: Families can work with our chaplain and child life specialists to find emotional healing
  • Decision making support: We help you understand your options when making important care decisions for your child by providing you with all available information and exploring your child and your family’s wishes
  • Hospice and bereavement support: We work with hospice agencies in the Omaha metro area, as well as further out in Nebraska and Iowa to make sure your child remains comfortable in the face of a terminal condition
  • Family meetings: These meetings focus on helping you understand what is going on currently, as well as preparing for the future. You can meet with our team to talk about any topic that is important to your family. If an out-of-town family member can’t attend an on-site family meeting, they can call into our conference line to participate

Integrative Support Therapies

We provide different options to help relieve symptoms caused by your child’s illness or treatment. These integrative support therapies can improve your child’s life quality and help them express their thoughts and emotions.

Our integrative support therapies include:

  • Aromatherapy

    Certain kinds of scents have been found to make some people feel better in different ways, which in turn can help improve quality of life and well-being. Our team utilizes aromatherapy to help lessen some symptoms of illness or the side effects of some treatments. We offer aromatherapy as an aromatic sachet (Ascents® clinical aromatherapy) according to our hospital aromatherapy policy.
  • Gentle Yoga/Tai Chi & Qi Gong

    Gentle yoga is a series of strength and stretching movements that can improve muscle strength and flexibility. It can be tailored to each patient’s limits and abilities.

    Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese form of exercise that uses slow, deliberate and controlled movements coordinated with breathing. Qi Gong is a Chinese system of physical exercise and breathing related to Tai Chi.

  • Healing Touch

    Healing Touch is a nurturing therapy that helps to restore and balance energy that has been depleted due to stress, illness, injury, grief, medical conditions, surgery, or medical treatments. The goal of Healing Touch is to restore harmony and balance in the human energy system by creating an optimal and relaxing environment to enable the body’s innate tendency for healing to occur.
  • Labyrinth

    Children’s has a portable labyrinth mat to use for walking meditation.

    A labyrinth is a form of walking meditation, with the intent of actively engaging your child in mindfulness. A labyrinth is a winding path that leads you in one direction towards its center. You then take the same path out to exit. It is not a maze or a test, and there is no wrong way to go. Labyrinths are ancient structures that cross all ethnic, religious, socio-economic, and educational backgrounds.

  • Massage Therapy

    Massage therapy is a form of therapy that applies gentle and systematic touch, focusing on specific areas of the body, or the whole body, for the purpose of promoting healing and relaxation. Massage therapy relieves tension and pain, increases circulation throughout the body, and reduces stress.

Our Specialists

“It is one of my greatest honors to bear witness to the unique stories each family brings to a life-altering illness. I count it as a true privilege to be present to the laughter and tears of each journey and the willingness to address the hardest questions about life, meaning, purpose, and faith. I would want no other work than to be on the journey with others when they need someone to journey with.”

–Reverend Dale Wratchford, Chaplain, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.

Critical Care
Palliative Care

Hema L. Navaneethan M.D.

Palliative Care

Meaghann Weaver, M.D., MPH

Hematology-Oncology
Palliative Care

Additional Resources For Families

The following resources can you help you round out care for your child — and yourself:

  • CaringBridge: Parent and patient blog site that connects friends and family during a health challenge, allowing you to share news and get support from other families anytime, anywhere
  • Centering Corporation: A non-profit grief support center located in Omaha that offers resources for purchase to help aid families
  • Courageous Parents Network: A website for families with children with serious illnesses that offers support and wisdom about taking care of a sick child
  • Compassionate Friends: An organization that supports families after the loss of a child, with 600 chapters across the country and online
  • Dougy Resource Center: A site with grief support information — including books, DVDs, and support groups for children and families outlined by state
  • Grief’s Journey: A center for grieving children and teens located in Omaha
  • Mourning Hope: A center for grieving families that focuses on support for children through young adults and also addresses the needs of siblings of a chronically ill child
  • National Alliance for Grieving Children: A national center for grieving children and families

What To Do Next

For Patients

We accept patients by referral; please contact your child’s doctor. For more information about Palliative Care at Children’s, call 402-955-5428.

For Referring Providers

The Physicians’ Priority Line is your 24-hour link to pediatric specialists at Children’s for referrals, emergency and urgent consults, physician-to-physician consults, admissions, and transport services. Call 855-850-KIDS (5437).

Learn more about referring patients.

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