Children’s hospitals prefer feel-good slogans, like Making Cancer History or Until Every Child is Well. They don’t usually advertise their palliative care programs, especially if they’re looking to fund raise. But being listened to, kept comfortable, and surrounded by family and loved ones is a crucial part of living, no matter how long that life lasts.
OHSU Doernbecher has a pediatric palliative care team that helps seriously ill children and their families make seemingly impossible decisions. They talk with families about options for their child’s treatment and comfort. They help kids leave the hospital and transition back to their communities — home, surrounded by loved ones, and living each day to the fullest.
“We sit, we listen, and we talk. We help guide people. We share in their grief, and we share in their joy,” said Robert Macauley, M.D., F.A.A.P., the program’s first medical director and the Cambia Health Foundation Endowed Chair in Pediatric Palliative Care.
Doernbecher’s program, Bridges, was founded 20 years ago with a dedicated team of two people to provide care to seriously ill children. Over time, the program has grown: The team now includes four physicians, a full-time nurse practitioner, a full-time chaplain and a social worker. This expansion has allowed them to care for more patients, as well as teach additional medical students, pediatric residents, and fellows about palliative care.
“I’m inspired daily by what I see,” Dr. Macauley said. “Before I did this work, I didn’t know what human beings were capable of. I thought I knew a little bit about courage, devotion and honesty. But my patients and their families have taken that to a whole new level. I feel honored to be in their presence.”
The power of giving
The Bridges program doesn’t do it alone. With help from multiple philanthropic partners over the years, the program has developed to support additional patients and families facing the difficulty of chronic conditions and end-of-life care.
“You need three things to have a successful pediatric palliative care program: a patient base to serve, an institution that has a vision, and philanthropic partners that recognize this is an opportunity to make a huge impact on the lives of those suffering serious illness,” Dr. Macauley said.
Many philanthropic partners have contributed to the success of the palliative care program at Doernbecher over the years, including the Cambia Health Foundation, Lamfrom Family Foundation, and, most recently, the Panda Cares Foundation.
“Philanthropy helps us take better care of our patients, expand our programs, take care of kids outside the hospital, and educate the next generation of physicians, nurse practitioners, and social workers. Without [our philanthropic partners], we would never be able to do the breadth of things that we’re doing.”Robert Macauley, M.D., FAAP
The Panda Cares Foundation — the philanthropic arm of Panda Express — recently signed a $5 million pledge to create the “Panda Cares Center of Hope” within OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. In recognition of this partnership, Doernbecher will name its ninth-floor acute care unit the Panda Cares Center of Hope.
In this space, Doernbecher will provide care for patients to support their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Additionally, Panda Express is committed to conducting year-round fundraising campaigns to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Doernbecher through point-of-sale campaigns, associate giving campaigns and events where locations donate a percentage of sales to Doernbecher.
Generous philanthropy from the Panda Cares Foundation has made it possible for the Bridges team to hire a nurse coordinator, who provides resources and support for patients and their families. That support has extended beyond Doernbecher and includes families in 15 counties across the state of Oregon.
“It’s the ongoing philanthropy from folks like the Panda Cares Foundation, Lamfrom Family Foundation and Cambia Health Foundation that is allowing us to do more than just show up and take care of patients,” Dr. Macauley said. “Philanthropy helps us take better care of our patients, expand our programs, take care of kids outside the hospital, and educate the next generation of physicians, nurse practitioners, and social workers. Without them, we would never be able to do the breadth of things that we’re doing.”