Children’s Medical Research, Inc. is launching a professional training program in pediatric palliative care at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC).
The organization, which does business as the Children’s Health Foundation of Oklahoma, will deliver the program to practicing physicians in pediatrics and general family medicine, as well as nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers, and palliative care workers in the whole state.
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 critical to supporting access to pediatric hospice palliative care, according to Kim Kamp Leslie, major gifts manager for grants and foundations at the Children’s Health Foundation.
“The end goal of the training is to increase awareness and skills in primary palliative care in the community – both in urban and rural populations – and to increase the use of pediatric palliative care for children with sickest in Oklahoma,” Kamp Leslie told Hospice News in an email. . “It is essential that Oklahoma pediatricians and providers are aware of pediatric hospice palliative care practices for families who choose to bring their loved one home from the hospital to provide care for their families and supportive communities at proximity.”
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 of $880,000 BCBSOK awarded to 20 Oklahoma nonprofits to address mental health, economic opportunity, and the social determinants of health.
The grant is expected to cover start-up costs and the development of a sustainable training model.
Professionals in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas, as well as the Northwest, Southwest, and South-Central Oklahoma areas will receive a one-day training session at no charge.
Founded approximately 40 years ago, the Children’s Health Foundation is the fundraising arm of the University of Oklahoma Pediatric Hospice Palliative Care Team and associated researchers.
The BCBSOK Grants Program has historically focused its support in the areas of childhood illness prevention and management, physical health, and nutrition. However, during the pandemic, the insurance company recognized that critical illness care providers needed additional support.
This was the first time that funds from this grant program had been 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’s not just about empowering a small number of families who have received care at any given time. This is going to be something that can be achieved across all health systems as they continue to roll out the strategy over time. This type of “train the trainer” model was really appealing to us because it really helps build the resources behind this training and allows them to really carry it out for the foreseeable future. More families will be positively impacted over time”
Funds issued by Healthy Kids, Healthy Families typically encompass one year of support for programs that can have a lasting impact on communities in need, she added.
Organizations participating in the BCBSOK grant program are encouraged to create sustainability models that incorporate long-term, ongoing financial support into their business models.
Depending on the success of the program in its first year, the training team may apply for continued financial support from the Children’s Health Foundation to expand the pediatric palliative care program.
“With these funds, we will now be able to train pediatric care providers across the state in basic but life-saving hospice palliative care skills, ensuring that more families and children receive care that is focused on quality of life during the toughest days of their lives,” said Dr. Rachna May, associate clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and director of care pediatric palliatives at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital.
The training series is expected to reach about 500 clinicians and professionals, according to May.