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Palliative care

Dell Children’s provides compassionate and family-centered palliative care services for children and families.

Child receiving palliative care for a serious illness.

Palliative care at Dell Children’s

Dell Children’s Medical Center provides compassionate and family-centered palliative care services to children and families facing a serious illness. This care provides an extra layer of support for children facing a chronic and complex or life-threatening illness. Our experienced palliative care team helps manage pain and other distressing symptoms while also providing emotional and spiritual support for your child and family.

A part of your child’s multidisciplinary care team

The palliative care team at Dell Children’s works in collaboration with other members of your child’s care team to carefully create a care plan that addresses the specific needs of your child and family. Our programs are able to provide support across different locations of care and stages of illness. We are even able to bring palliative care to your home through our programs with Dell Children’s at Home. Although different team members may provide palliative care support at different times, our team meets regularly to discuss and coordinate your family’s care plan.

Frequently asked questions about palliative care

  • What is palliative care?

    Palliative (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) care is care focused on improving quality of life and minimizing the suffering of children with advanced, complex and life-threatening illnesses. Palliative care providers, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and certified child life specialists work closely with your child’s doctor and team to help manage pain and symptoms, set goals, and coordinate care in inpatient, outpatient and home settings.

  • Does accepting palliative care mean our family is giving up on other treatments?

    Your child can receive palliative care along with other treatments. The purpose of palliative care is to help ease your child’s pain and other symptoms while providing emotional and other support to your entire family. In fact, your child can start getting palliative care as soon as you learn about your child’s illness. Palliative care can help all children, from newborns to young adults, and their families when a child is diagnosed with a serious illness.

  • If we start palliative care, can my child still see the same primary care doctor or pediatrician?

    Yes. Your child does not have to change to a new primary care doctor or pediatrician when palliative care begins. The palliative care team and your child’s doctor work with you to decide on the best care plan for your child and family.

  • How is hospice different from palliative care?

    Hospice is a robust set of home-based palliative care services designed to support children and their families when a serious illness becomes life-threatening. Children can receive the support of a pediatric hospice program when one of their providers becomes concerned that death from their underlying illness may occur within the next six months.

    The Affordable Care Act mandates that patients under age 21 may continue to receive curative or life-prolonging treatments while enrolled in a pediatric hospice program. This insurance requirement is referred to as the Concurrent Care for Children Requirement, and while the law only applies to children enrolled in their state Medicaid program, most private insurance providers will also honor this model of hospice care. Additional information about the Concurrent Care for Children Requirement can be found on the website for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

  • When should I ask for palliative care for my child?

    Palliative care is appropriate for all ages and at any stage of a serious illness. But we recommend requesting palliative care early in your child’s illness. The sooner you request palliative care, the sooner we can create a care plan that helps manage your child’s pain and symptoms, and the emotions that may come with a serious illness. You can ask your child’s doctor about scheduling a palliative care consultation.

  • How can I request a referral?

    Palliative care referrals must come from one of your child’s doctors, but you can ask any member of your child's care team about a palliative care consultation. You can request a palliative care consultation during a hospital stay, at a clinic visit, during a well-child check, or any interaction you may have with your child’s care team. Tell your child's doctor, nurse or other care team member that you are interested in learning more about palliative care as an extra layer of support.

    Additionally, one of your child’s providers may tell you that they would like to consult the palliative care team. They should be able to tell you why they are making the referral and answer any initial questions you may have.

    If you have questions about whether your child may benefit from a palliative care or hospice referral, please call our office at 512-324-0197.

Meet our care team

Leadership and administrative team:

  • Rachel Carnahan-Metzger, LCSW
  • Sasha Griffith, RN, BSN, CPLC, CHPPN
  • Patrick Jones, MD, HMDC, FAAP
  • Angelina Villalba

Medical provider team:

  • Patrick Jones, MD, HMDC, FAAP
  • Dianna Yip, DO, SEP, FAAP
  • Laura Cummins, RN, CPNP-PC, CHPPN
  • Lisa Lam, RN, CPNP-PC, CHPPN

Nursing team:

  • Sasha Griffith, RN, BSN, CPLC, CHPPN
  • Sarah Davis, RN, BSN
  • Mary Fassnacht, RN, BSN
  • Rebecca Meneses, RN, BSN, CPN, CPMT, CHPPN
  • Kristin Partyka, RN, BSN
  • Jerra Pyka, RN, BSN
  • Kathryn Russell, RN

Psychosocial-spiritual team:

  • Rachel Carnahan-Metzger, LCSW
  • Heather Eppelheimer, CCLS, CPLC
  • Caroline Gold, LMSW
  • Brandon Morgan, PhD, MDiv

Contact us

If you are a parent or caregiver of a child with a serious illness:

  • For general questions about pediatric palliative care at Dell Children’s, please call our office at 512-324-0197.
  • For questions about our perinatal palliative care and pediatric hospice programs, please call the main line for Dell Children’s at Home at 833-628-2112 and select option 1.

If you are a healthcare provider:

  • For our inpatient consult service
    • Medical provider coverage is found on Voalte ("Home" > "On-Call Schedule" > "DCMC" > "DCMC Palliative Care").
    • Providers without Voalte may call our office at 512-324-0197. If outside typical business hours, please call Medlink at 512-323-5465 and request the on-call provider for pediatric palliative care.
  • For clinic and virtual visits
    • If you would like to discuss a potential referral or a current palliative care patient that is not hospitalized, please call our office at 512-324-0197. If outside typical business hours, please call Medlink at 512-323-5465 and request the on-call provider for pediatric palliative care.
    • Referrals may be sent to our program by fax to 512-324-0780 or electronically via Athena by ordering “Palliative Medicine Referral” and selecting “Dell Children’s Pediatric Palliative Care” as the receiving provider.
  • For perinatal palliative care and pediatric hospice
    • Please call the main line for Dell Children’s at Home at 833-628-2112 and select option 1

Palliative care