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Spring 2014
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Palliative Care Is Not Optional

Anderson comes to palliative care via Hasbro’s emergency department, where she practiced pediatric emergency medicine for 17 years. There are clinical bridges between the two specialties— managing pain and anxiety and drug interactions, dealing with respiratory difficulties and other acute episodes due to a chronic illness—but, arguably, most important is the innate ability to provide warm, calm, clinically excellent support for children and families in crisis.

“Angie is a force for good,” says Sylvia Kay Hassenfeld Professor of Pediatrics Robert Klein, MD, chair of Pediatrics. “This is a program that functions mostly on heart, and there is no limit to what she will do to help a family.”

Klein created Anderson’s position last year, building on the work of Hasbro’s Max All Star Kids Program—an interdisciplinary support program for families, launched by the parents of Max Schloss, a child whose life was cut short by Tay-Sachs disease just before his second birthday—and creating a mechanism for coordinating multiple ad hoc palliative care solutions devised by clinicians on a patient-by-patient basis.

“A single child can be treated by several specialists at the same time,” says Anderson. “Part of my job is to coordinate that care.”

“Palliative care is not optional … it’s an integral component of quality care, and it’s essential for any family with a child who needs chronic care or suffers from pain or disability,” says Klein, noting nonetheless that much of the service that Anderson provides is unreimbursed by third-party payers. “There’s no way to charge for this kind of care, so we’re funding it from philanthropic resources. It’s very early now, but we have big dreams for growing the program.”

Klein’s vision includes clinical, educational, and research components. “We train some of the most wonderful pediatricians here,” he says. “We need to set research-driven guidelines for providing palliative care as part of our educational and clinical missions.”
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