MORRISTOWN, NJ – Children who are seriously ill or facing end-of-life care decisions spend long periods of time in the hospital and their families require new routines while their loved one is away from home. Liam’s Room, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing pediatric palliative care resources and support for families of young patients who spend great lengths of time in the hospital, provides a “home away from home” for these families.
In 2019, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, New Jersey will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the opening of its Liam’s Room, the first of its kind in the state. Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey, is celebrating its five-year anniversary in 2018.
The rooms memorialize the life of Liam Hayden McNamara, who died at age 16 months, and were inspired by the experiences of his parents, former Westfield residents Lisa and Peter McNamara, as they sought care for their child at a time when pediatric palliative care was not often discussed.
In an effort to enhance comfort and create access to these services, they founded Liam’s Room Inc., which designs and funds custom-designed, inpatient pediatric hospital rooms that provide a more welcoming environment for the entire family and the amenities of home. They include sleep sofas, recliners, refrigerators, homework space, full-length closets, in-room video games, and family eating space and help create a home-like atmosphere that eases the difficulties of a child's prolonged hospital stay and promote family-centered care.
In addition to the rooms, Liam’s Room is committed to pediatric palliative care through education and provider training. In 2017, the organization financed Goryeb Children's Hospital and Overlook Medical Center nurse attendance at the Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition's Third Annual State Conference. The organization also financed the attendance of Goryeb Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Sheryl Vassallo, a pediatric hospitalist and palliative care physician, and Dr. Toah Alafita, a pediatric critical care physician, at a palliative care clinical education course at Harvard University
“In partnership with Liam’s Room Inc., Atlantic Health System is changing the hospital experience for children with serious and life-limiting illnesses as well as for their families,” said Walter D. Rosenfeld, MD, Chair of Pediatrics, Atlantic Health System. “By providing the comforts of home, and enabling families to stay together, we are better able to provide true patient and family-centered care, helping ease the situation for everyone.”
“Trying to balance our family life with caring for Liam and spending so much time in and out of the hospital, we knew there needed to be a more supportive system, and an improved, family-centered environment when in the hospital,” said Lisa McNamara, Liam’s mother and co-founder of Liam’s Room, Inc. “We wanted to create a space where a family could shut the door and feel as though they might be at home in their child’s bedroom, while also receiving the support and care that their family and their child needs—that is the heart of what pediatric palliative care is all about. It is about improving the quality of life of both the child and the family.”
In 2013, following the success of the Liam's Room at Overlook Medical Center, Liam’s Room Inc. opened a nautical "deep sea" themed room at Goryeb Children’s Hospital, which was been virtually full since it opened. Children facing end-of-life are given priority use of the room, but it has also been used by young patients who are undergoing care for long-lasting conditions like cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and neurologic disorders.
Learn more about Liam's Room at http://www.liamsroom.org. Learn more about the pediatric palliative care services at Goryeb Children's Hospital at: https://www.atlantichealth.org/goryeb/our-services/pediatric-palliative-care.html.
About Atlantic Health System
Atlantic Health System, headquartered in Morristown, N.J., is an integrated health care delivery system powered by a workforce of over 16,500 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities. The system serves a population of five million, with over 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center, Hackettstown Medical Center and Goryeb Children’s Hospital.
Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs including 11 urgent care centers, Atlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.
In addition to the employed workforce, Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network, represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ. Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of six regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability, and is a founding member of both the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across six health systems in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and AllSpire Health Partners, a consortium of five leading health care organizations dedicated to serving patients, families and communities in New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania