The head of pediatric palliative care at Akron Children’s Hospital is getting national attention for her efforts to promote supportive care for young patients with serious medical problems.
Dr. Sarah Friebert, director of the Akron Children’s Hospital Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center, is featured in an article appearing in this week’s edition of The New Yorker magazine (www.newyorker.com).
The article, “Lives Less Ordinary,” is written by Dr. Jerome Groopman, a professor at Harvard Medical School and author of several books on health care.
In the piece, Groopman shares the stories of several patients at Boston Children’s Hospital who have benefited from palliative care services, which provide supportive care to patients with cancer, brain injuries, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, complex congenital heart defects and other conditions.
Unlike hospice, palliative care is not limited to the final months of life.
Friebert was interviewed to share her thoughts on why insurers should pay for palliative care the same as they reimburse other specialists for their services.
The New Yorker’s audience “is such an important constituency as we move this forward,” she said. “These folks are the ones who could have some influence.”
Friebert said she’s hopeful the article will generate a national conversation on the topic, similar to the way a 2010 article in the magazine by Dr. Atul Gawande raised awareness about the importance of end-of-life care for adults.
The recent article already is generating a buzz on Twitter, she said.
“My belief is we are not going to change the way we do things unless there is public outcry for this kind of care,” she said. “Articles like this are a way to further that public conversation and begin to have a groundswell.”
Secondhand smoke risk
Exposure to secondhand smoke — whether parents admit to smoking by their children or not — appears to increase the risk for another hospital stay for young patients who have been hospitalized for asthma.
A new study published in this week’s edition of the medical journal Pediatrics links secondhand smoke exposure in homes or cars to an increased risk of being readmitted within a year.
Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Pennsylvania State University’s Milton S. Hershey Children’s Hospital tested children’s blood and saliva for levels of cotinine, a substance produced when the body breaks down nicotine.
The researchers found no correlation between caregivers’ reports of children’s secondhand smoke exposure and hospital readmissions.
However, the blood and saliva tests showed increased levels of cotinine among those who were readmitted, indicating secondhand smoke exposure.
More than 75 percent of the 619 children in the program are covered by Medicaid, which shows “certainly there could be a financial incentive for insurance companies to help caregivers quit smoking, rather than pay the downstream costs of a future asthma readmission,” Dr. Judie Howryla, lead study author and physician at Hershey Children’s Hospital, said in a news release.
Heart health programs
The Mercy Heart Center at Mercy Medical Center in Canton is offering several educational programs and community events throughout February as a sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative.
The national initiative is designed to raise awareness that women also are at risk for heart disease.
Some of the upcoming community programs sponsored by Mercy include:
• Red Hot Zumbathon — 2-4 p.m. Feb. 1 at Mercy Hall Auditorium, 1320 Mercy Drive NW, Canton. A $10 donation is suggested, with proceeds benefiting the American Heart Association.
• Sisters in Red: African American Women and Heart Disease — 11 a.m. Feb. 8 at Meyer’s Lake Ballroom, 3218 Parkway St., NW, Canton. The free event features lunch and a presentation by Mercy Cardiovascular Institute cardiologists.
A complete list of upcoming programs is available online at www.cantonmercy.org/GoRed. Call 1-800-223-8662 to register for all the programs.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or email@example.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.