Lexington, Ky.-based hospice provider Bluegrass Care Navigators has unveiled a new community-based pediatric palliative care program called Bright Path, offering specialized medical care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults suffering from serious illness.
Physicians, nurse practitioners, nurse coordinators, nurses, clinical social workers, and chaplains comprise the multidisciplinary team providing care through Bright Path. A nationally certified pediatric advance practice registered nurse leads the program.
The program’s staff have received specialized pediatric palliative care training from the Center to Advance Palliative Care as well as education from the the American Association of Colleges of Nursing palliative training programs. Staff also spent time shadowing palliative clinicians at area children’s hospitals.
“Children often outlive their life expectancy; therefore, often require continued symptom management and family/caregiver support. We identified there was a large need for the children in our community,” said Tom Cote, chief medical officer for Bluegrass Care Navigators. “There are more than 400,000 medically complex children living at home [in the United States] and greater than 40,000 childhood deaths per year. Of the 21% of children who die, their deaths are related to complex care conditions. These children and families need palliative expertise to help guide them on this journey.”
Bright Path’s clinicians are establishing close relationships with regional children’s hospitals to help facilitate smooth transitions from the hospital to the home care setting. The team will coordinate care with the patient’s pediatric primary care provider as well as any specialists treating the child or young adult.
Patients are able to continue pursuing curative treatment while receiving palliative care.
The program is designed to help manage symptoms in the home for pediatric patients suffering from progressive cancer, neuromuscular conditions, genetic or congenital diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular conditions, pulmonary disorders and other serious or chronic conditions. The program also provides education and support to parents, siblings and caregivers.
“Many of the children we serve use advanced medical equipment, are developmentally delayed and are still pursing curative treatment,” Cote told Hospice News. “In caring for children, there are often increased family support needs, including adaptation to advanced care needs for siblings. It is important for the child and their siblings to be involved in the plan or care and be included in decisions when appropriate.”
Bluegrass Care Navigators provides hospice care in 32 counties across Central, Eastern and Northern Kentucky. In addition to hospice and palliative care, the organization provides private duty nursing, home primary care, transitional care and adult day health care.