This title is something that we hear quite frequently, whether by people we meet for the first time and tell them what we do, other medical professionals we interact with, or even sometimes the families we help to care for. As part of Gilchrist Kids, the pediatric team for Gilchrist Hospice Care, we hear these words so often.
In reality, this work is difficult, but rewarding in so many different ways. The sadness we face, the intensity of the care, and the emotional stress, is all worth it when we know that we have truly helped a child and their family along the journey they are facing. We celebrate the good days, the milestones, even the skipped hospitalizations with the children and their families, as well as within our team.
The patients we care for; the unborn, infants, children, adolescents, and even young adults; and their families face a journey that isn’t a natural course of events and may find themselves saying “I can’t do this”. These patients and families have a remarkable amount of resolve and resiliency that we, as the pediatric team, have the distinct honor of working with and supporting. The families we meet are amazing. There is sadness and tears, but also laughter and celebrations. There are pictures taken for the first time through graduation pictures, trips, and celebrations that are important. Our team is there to help plan and arrange along the way. And, when pain or symptoms, or even grief becomes overwhelming, we are there to help manage and guide. If needed, patients can go into one of our two inpatient units for additional support.
When a hospital isn’t sure of the outcome or if a child can go home, we are there to support the medical journey as well. The Gilchrist Kids team can help with discharge coordination and planning weeks before it may even be a reality. We can help the health care team and family explore the option of going home. We can also assist in having the courageous conversations around the decisions to be made related to medical interventions.
We have the honor and privilege of sitting with families and children throughout a journey that sometimes lasts the lifespan of the child. We are able to be present at births and deaths and celebrate the life that each child has had and the joy they have brought to so many.