Children’s Health Foundation Develops Pediatric Palliative Care Training Program

Children’s Medical Research, Inc., is launching a pediatric palliative care professional training program at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center (OUHSC).

The organization, which does business as the Children’s Health Foundation of Oklahoma, will offer the program to practicing physicians in pediatrics and general family medicine, as well as nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers and hospice workers statewide.

Participants will learn skills to identify, collaborate and help organize interdisciplinary pediatric palliative care teams, as well as care coordination strategies, according to Children’s Medical Research.


The ability to grow this workforce is paramount to support access to pediatric palliative care, according to Kim Kamp Leslie, major gifts officer of grants and foundations at the Children’s Health Foundation.

“The end goal of the training is to increase primary palliative care awareness and competency in the community — both in urban and rural populations — and to increase the use of pediatric palliative care to Oklahoma’s sickest children,” Kamp Leslie told Hospice News in an email. “It is critical for Oklahoma’s pediatricians and providers to be knowledgeable about pediatric palliative care practices for those families who choose to bring their loved one home from the hospital to provide care with their families and communities of support nearby.”

The foundation received a $60,000 grant from BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma (BCBSOK) to fund the program, through the insurance provider’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families initiative. This grant was part of a total $880,000 that BCBSOK awarded to 20 Oklahoma nonprofits to address mental health, economic opportunity and social determinants of health.


The grant is expected to cover startup costs and the development of a sustainable training model.

Professionals in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan areas, as well as in northwest, southwest, and south central regions of Oklahoma will be provided a one-day training session at no cost.

Founded roughly 40 years ago, the Children’s Health Foundation is the fundraising arm of the University of Oklahoma’s pediatric palliative care team and associated researchers.

The BCBSOK grant program has historically focused support on areas of children disease prevention and management, physical health and nutrition. However, during the pandemic the insurance company recognized that serious illness care providers needed additional support.

This was the first time that funds from this grant program were allocated for pediatric palliative care purposes, according to Brooke Townsend, director of community affairs at BCBSOK.

“What was appealing about this program was that it was specialized training that was going to impact families for years to come,” Townsend told Hospice News. “It isn’t just empowering a small number of families who happened to be receiving care at a certain point in time. This is going to be something that can be carried out across health systems as they continue to roll out the strategy over time. This kind of ‘train-the-trainer’ model was really appealing for us, because it helps really shore up the resources behind this training and allows them to really carry it out into the foreseeable future. More families will be positively impacted over time”

The funds issued through Healthy Kids, Healthy Families typically encapsulate one year of support to programs with potential to make lasting impacts on communities in need, she added.

Organizations participating in the BCBSOK grant program are asked to create sustainability models that integrate continued long-term financial support into their business models.

Depending on the program’s success in its first year, the training team can request continued financial support from the Children’s Health Foundation to build out the pediatric palliative care program.

“With these funds, we will now be able to train pediatric providers throughout the state in basic but vital palliative care skills, ensuring that more families and children receive the benefits of quality-of-life focused care during the hardest days of their lives,” said Dr. Rachna May, clinical associate professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center’s pediatric department and director of pediatric palliative care at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital.

The training series is anticipated to reach roughly 500 clinicians and professionals, according to May.

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