MORRISTOWN, NJ - Due to a generous donation from Liam’s Room, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and support for families of pediatric patients who spend great lengths of time in the hospital, three nurses from Atlantic Health System’s Goryeb Children’s Hospital were able to attend the Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition’s Third Annual State Conference.

The conference was established in 2004 to improve the quality and availability of palliative care and hospice services to children, and aligns with Liam’s Room mission of educating clinicians on the necessity of pediatric palliative care.

Nurses Janine Ruppert, RN, who works in the pediatric infusion center, Jennifer O’Neill, RN, and Sarah Helm, RN, who work in pediatric critical care, attended the conference.

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“Palliative care enables me to use both clinical judgement and empathy when caring for my patients,” said O’Neill. “It’s balancing treatment with comfort - evaluating what’s important to the patient and the family and meeting their needs.”

In addition to clinician education, Liam’s Room establishes “home-away-from-home,” custom-designed, inpatient pediatric hospital rooms – “Liam’s Rooms”, where seriously ill children and their families can experience more of the comforts of home. These specially designed rooms provide a more welcoming environment for the entire family. Sofas, recliners, refrigerator, homework space, in-room video games and movies help to create a home-like atmosphere that eases the inherent difficulties of a child’s prolonged hospital stay and promote family-centered care.

In 2013, a Liam’s Room opened at Goryeb Children’s Hospital, following the success of the Liam’s Room at Overlook Medical Center. The room, which features a nautical “deep sea” theme, has been used each day since. 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 chronic conditions like cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and neurologic disorders.

“Liam’s Room has accomplished a great deal in the last 10 years, but there is much more to be done,” said Julia Sen, Liam’s Room Co-Chair.  “Each of the hospitals we have rooms in must continue to deepen their commitment to pediatric palliative care through the education and training of their clinicians.  While our rooms provide much-needed comfort to the families who use them, it is the continued advancement of the practice of pediatric palliative care that will change the complete experience families with seriously or chronically ill children have in hospitals.”

Goryeb Children’s Hospital is committed to palliative care education, having recently hosted the second annual Neonatal Palliative Care Symposium at the hospital on October 17. In addition to in-person trainings, staff at Goryeb Children’s Hospital are looking into online courses and educational DVDs for staff who are unable to travel.

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.