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Aerial view of the CHLA Anderson Pavilion Building.

Comfort and Palliative Care - Holistic Symptom Management

About the Division of Palliative Care Team

Our Comfort and Palliative Care team can significantly improve a child’s and family’s well-being, beginning when a patient is first diagnosed with a life-altering illness and continuing all the way through treatment and beyond. Whether it’s easing symptoms such as nausea, comforting distraught parents or creating a treatment plan tailored to each patient. We are dedicated to guiding the whole family throughout all stages of illness and the entire hospital experience.

Our Services

The Comfort and Palliative Care team is comprised of physicians, nurses, psychologists and social workers. We help with:

  • Holistic symptom management to relieve discomfort and distress
  • Collaboration with a child’s primary medical team to provide comprehensive, personalized care
  • Family conferences to assist with difficult decision-making and empower patients and families to communicate their needs to achieve their goals
  • Ambulatory clinical services in a dedicated palliative care clinic, and concurrent with sub-specialty ambulatory care
  • Case management and care coordination across multiple care settings
  • Support services if end-of-life care is needed
  • Bereavement care for families and hospital staff

Comfort and Palliative Care FAQs

What is “palliative care”? 

The word “palliative” means to “relieve symptoms.” Palliative care at Children's Hospital Los Angeles offers physical, emotional, physical and spiritual support to children and teens with life threatening illnesses, and their families.

If I’m interested in palliative care, who do I contact? 

If your child is hospitalized at CHLA, ask the physician on your primary team for a consult with our service. If your child is currently at home, you could ask any of your child's medical providers for a referral to our clinic.

What does the Comfort and Palliative Care team do? 

The Comfort and Palliative Care team at Children's Hospital Los Angeles:

  • Treats physical problems in patients, such as pain or sleep difficulties, as well as emotional problems like fear, depression or anxiety.
  • Meets with families to talk about goals, worries and hopes.
  • Provides extra support to families facing difficult decisions about their child’s treatment.
  • Helps to bring together different caregivers and teams caring for a child with a complicated illness to talk together with families about treatment goals and plans.
  • Sees the patient on a consistent basis in the hospital and works with your doctor to provide the best possible care during the hospital stay.

If my doctor refers us to Comfort and Palliative Care, does that mean my child is dying? 

No. There are many reasons doctors ask for the Comfort and Palliative Care team to become involved with families at our hospital, including:

  • When a patient has just been diagnosed with a serious illness.
  • When something changes during an illness, causing patients and families to face difficult decisions about treatments or care.
  • When medical treatments cannot cure an illness, but treatment that offers care and support will continue.

Who is on a Comfort and Palliative Care team? 

The Comfort and Palliative Care team at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles currently includes a physician, nurse practitioner, support coordinator, psychologist, nurse care manager and support counselor.

If we accept palliative care, does that mean we don’t work with our regular doctors anymore? 

Your child’s doctors will remain fully in charge of your child’s medical care. The Comfort and Palliative Care team will work with your doctors to provide additional, supportive care.

Does the team see us only when we are in the hospital? 

No. We follow up with families in our outpatient clinics to provide care for pain and related issues. We also sometimes check in with families during their clinic visits with their regular doctors, or we make phone calls to make sure everything is going alright at home. If there are any problems at home, we make ourselves available to assist with solving these problems. 

Is palliative care the same thing as hospice? 

No; people often think of the word hospice when they hear “palliative care,” but they are different. Hospice is a specific service for home-based care at the end of life. But palliative care is more than hospice. Palliative care can be part of the treatment plan at any time, beginning even at the time of diagnosis of a serious illness. Our team can help provide referrals to home-based hospice services if they are needed.