In a state that received an F ranking for access to palliative care, the Palliative Care Team at Batson Children's has pulled to the top of the international class.
The team was recognized by the International Journal of Palliative Nursing during a ceremony held Monday, Sept. 14 at the Honourable Artillery Company in London.
Dr. Rick Boyte, professor of pediatrics and division chief of pediatric palliative medicine at Batson Children's Hospital, accepted the IJPN Development Award on behalf of the Palliative Care Team. The development award "celebrates the achievements of a team or an individual working in an area of the world where palliative care services are relatively new."
"I was told that our application stood out to each of the judges who performed individual reviews. They were most impressed with our commitment to establishing a palliative care program for children in a region of the USA that has so little penetration of the specialty," Boyte said.
The Center to Advance Palliative Care and the National Palliative Care Research Center gave Mississippi an F ranking for its palliative care access in 2008 and 2011, and the southern region of the U.S. is deemed to have fewer hospitals offering palliative care due to the prevalence of small hospitals over large hospitals with 50 or more beds.
The team could easily address one criteria of the award - what challenges has this nominee had to overcome?
"We have overcome many, many barriers - lack of firm funding, short staffing, multiple duties for too few people. We have also struggled to develop an identity while so many have tried to impose a false one based on misperceptions," said Boyte.
The Batson Palliative Care Team was established in 2009 as a consultation service focusing on children and infants with terminal illnesses. Today, the staff of seven provides care coordination to children with chronic complex conditions through an outpatient clinic, an inpatient unit, consultation services, perinatal bereavement services and a home ventilator service.
"The goal is to make life easier for these children and to provide a better quality of life," said Shannon Brown, RN and care coordinator on the team. "The majority of the work is behind the scenes paperwork - assisting with equipment re-certifications, training parents on home ventilators, making sure their medications are being paid for, refilling medications and helping them apply for private duty nurses."
"We all have a passion for these kids, and that's why we were put together as a team," said Brown.
In his letter of nomination to the International Journal of Palliative Nursing for the award, Dr. Boyte wrote that the team is made up of some of the hardest working and most compassionate people he has worked with in his 20 years as a physician at UMMC.
"Each of the members of our multidisciplinary team brings an equally valuable set of experiences and talents and has a superior sense of loyalty to the children and their families. I am very proud, honored and grateful to work with such incredibly compassionate and selfless individuals," said Boyte.