What is Pediatric Palliative Care?

What is Pediatric Palliative Care?


For this month’s post, St. Mary’s would like to focus attention on the skilled, compassionate palliative care that we provide to our patients, especially since November has been named National Palliative Care Month.

The first program of its kind in the nation, St. Mary’s Palliative Care Program has one goal: To minimize discomfort—and maximize the quality of life—for children with a life-limiting or life-threatening illness.

Palliative care prioritizes comfort and quality of life for the child and his/her family. It typically starts as soon as a diagnosis is confirmed and usually at the same time treatment begins. One of the greatest misconceptions regarding palliative care is that it is the same as hospice care.

But, what is palliative care, and more importantly, what is pediatric palliative care? It is specialized care for our patients with a serious, long-term health condition. It provides our patients with solutions for their pain, symptoms, and stress of their illness. It also applies to the treatment provided manage their disease. Palliative care can take place at the same time your child is undergoing curative treatment for their illness and doesn’t depend on the stage of your child’s illness.

Our Palliative Care Program offers Complementary care services which provide a range of modalities that complement or enhance the care your child is currently receiving. Complementary care supports the body, mind, and spirit to aid in recovery, promote health, manage pain, and reduce stress. A variety of healing techniques such as Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Massage Therapy, and Aromatherapy are available to children and their families.

Depending on your child’s age and condition, they may be able to make decisions about their treatment and care. The palliative care team at St. Mary’s will talk with you, your child and other family members so that we can have a defined set of goals for your child’s treatment and care plan. This will include the management of pain and other symptoms. With this information, our palliative care team will be able to help your child and family fully understand your child’s condition and help them with the pain, symptoms, and emotions that come with a serious illness.

Our in-patient palliative care team consists of:

  • Doctors and Nurses
  • Chaplains, Psychologists, Social workers
  • Massage therapist
  • Physical, Speech, and Occupational therapists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Music and Art therapist
  • Recreational therapists
  • Doula volunteers

If you believe that palliative care would be beneficial to your child and your family, please contact St. Mary’s Palliative Care Program Manager, Marianne Muzic, LCSW, ACHP-SW. APHSW-C.  She can be reached by telephone at 718-281-8941 or by email at: mmuzic@stmaryskids.org.