Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus now houses Israel’s first Pediatric Palliative and Supportive Care Center (HPPSCC)--a home away from home for parents and their children who suffer from chronic or terminal diseases.
As Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of the Division of Pediatrics at Hadassah, explains: “Thousands of children a year are diagnosed with life-threatening conditions in Israel, ranging from cancer to genetic and metabolic diseases, to organ damage and organ failure. Although the chances of surviving these diseases are higher than ever before, evidence suggests that these children still experience substantial suffering, physically and emotionally. Many families suffer from a poor quality of life because of their daily struggle with the pain or discomfort of their child with a severe debilitating and chronic disease. “
HPPSCC takes a holistic approach to helping these families. As Prof. Kerem relates, “it alleviates the child’s suffering, helps the parents cope with the challenge of caring for such a child, and pays attention to the healthy siblings, who have their own needs within the challenging framework of the family.” Siblings, he explains, no matter how young, “often feel guilty that they are healthy, or they feel neglected because the parents are so busy with the sick child.”
At the same time, Prof. Kerem brings out, because there is a high rate of divorce among parents caring for children with chronic or terminal diseases, “we try to do family preservation.” He explains: “We always ask to see both parents together, not just one. We give counsel if one parents feels all the burden is falling on her or him. But couples with a strong bond manage to survive and even thrive.”
Directed by Prof. Rebecca Brooks, the multidisciplinary center now cares for 12 families, but expects to increase that number to 50 or 60 shortly. As Prof. Brooks notes: When a child dies, it’s very difficult for all of us, but part of our purpose is to provide aftercare for the family and siblings.” In the planning stages, she says, is a program to care specifically for the siblings’ emotional needs. Read more about Hadassah’s Pediatric Palliative and Supportive Care Center in the April 9th Jerusalem Post article.