Power to choose

Peri­na­tal pal­lia­tive care of­fer par­ents op­tions

Modern Healthcare - - Special Section -

Those who give birth to a ter­mi­nally ill child have lit­tle time to en­joy pre­cious mo­ments. Hop­ing to give fam­i­lies a chance to make the most of their short, sweet time with their new­borns, Women’s Hos­pi­tal in New­burgh, Ind., in Oc­to­ber 2009 be­gan a peri­na­tal pal­lia­tive-care pro­gram de­signed to pro­vide par­ents with choices.

No­tably, while ba­bies born with fa­tal anom­alies typ­i­cally spend their brief lives in neona­tal in­ten­sive-care units, the hos­pi­tal fig­ured some par­ents might find it em­pow­er­ing to at least be able to take their ba­bies home.

More broadly, this Hand in Hand pro­gram pro­vides a team that of­fers pal­lia­tive care and re­lieve phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal and spir­i­tual suf­fer­ing. Staff gath­ers me­men­tos such as ul­tra- sound pic­tures, cloth­ing and blan­kets.

For this thought­ful­ness, the 74-bed hos­pi­tal has re­ceived the Spirit of Ex­cel­lence Award in the CARES cat­e­gory. CARES stands for com­pas­sion, ac­count­abil­ity, re­spect, en­thu­si­asm and ser­vice.

“We wanted to pro­vide them with op­tions,” says Dar­lene Fis­cher, Re­solve Through Shar­ing be­reave­ment ser­vices co­or­di­na­tor, who helped launch the pro­gram.

CEO Christina Ryan says the de­fault as­sump­tion al­ways had been that ter­mi­nally ill ba­bies should stay in the NICU, “Un­til some­body like Dar­lene, and oth­ers, say, ‘Why? Why do we have to do that?’ ”

The chal­lenge will be get­ting re­im­burse­ment for hospice care pro­vided out­side the NICU. While a stay in the NICU would be re­im­bursed with­out ques­tion, “You don’t want to get paid to do the wrong things,” Ryan adds. “We want to do what’s right for the fam­ily. And it ends up be­ing a ben­e­fit to health­care costs, in gen­eral.”

The Women’s Hos­pi­tal gives pa­tients the op­tion to take ter­mi­nally ill ba­bies home.

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