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Battelle Life Sciences Research CRO+ Today

Battelle Life Sciences Research CRO+ Today

Inaugural CardioConnect Webinar Focuses on Improving Quality of Life of Children with Life-Limiting Illnesses

Battelle Healthcare Colloquium featured Kimberly Juanico, RN, BSN, CHPPN, in its inaugural webinar on April 13. Kim is the Pediatric Palliative Care Coordinator of Holtz Children’s Hospital, Jackson Health System. A Battelle Healthcare Colloquium member hospital, Holtz Children's Hospital has served more than 500 pediatric palliative care patients since the launch of its pediatric palliative care program, PediPals, in January 2015.

The webinar was the first in a new members-only series, called CardioConnect. Kim is an award-winning registered nurse with eight years of experience in pediatric palliative care. In 2015, she was named the Pediatric Palliative Care Nurse Coordinator of PediPals. She focuses on treating patients by educating, supporting and comforting them and their families throughout the disease process with age- and disease-specific activities and resources.

We sat down with Kim to learn more about her passion for PediPals and improving the quality of life of children with life-limiting illnesses.

What initially inspired you to focus on pediatric palliative care?

I started my career as a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) nurse at Holtz Children's Hospital. I was treating a young boy who had been in the PICU for a few months, and Director of Pediatric Palliative Care Dr. G. Patricia Cantwell invited me to join her, the patient and the patient's family for a field trip to the Miami Seaquarium. We packed the young boy, IV medications and all, and enjoyed a day outside of the hospital with some of his favorite animals. Although he died a few months later, the smile on his face when he returned to the hospital that day will stay with his family for a lifetime.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about pediatric palliative care? How does PediPals address these misconceptions?

Palliative care is often mistaken for end-of-life care and, therefore, many teams deny its need. Our PediPals team works hard to schedule consultations initiated at the time of diagnosis in order to build a rapport with patients and their families. This allows time to discuss difficult conversations, rather than waiting until a child's health declines. Additionally, this provides time to achieve goals of the patient and family have set—whether it be a family vacation, a Mother’s Day celebration or a graduation.

How is PediPals integrated with the transplant and cardiology teams at your hospital?

When a patient is diagnosed with stage 3 or 4 heart failure, PediPals is immediately consulted. Our team participates in meetings with the patients and their family as transplant surgery is discussed, and we work with the patient pre- and post transplant surgery. We follow this process with multi-organ, liver and kidney transplant patients as well, however, these consultations occur on an as needed basis.

What has been the most rewarding part of working with the PediPals program?

The relationships I have built with my patients and their families have been life-changing. Each family teaches me something new, and I am privileged to be able to carry this knowledge with me as PediPals grows.

What are you goals for the future of PediPals?

My goal is to grow the PediPals team so we can provide consistent follow-up to families. I'd also like to make my team's consultations routine in the clinical setting so a rapport is built with patients before they are admitted into the hospital.

About CardioConnect Webinar Series

The CardioConnect webinar series is designed specifically with Battelle Healthcare Colloquium members in mind. Each month, members are invited to join us to collaborate and discuss the latest in enabling their healthcare organization to meet their heart failure care goals.

Battelle Healthcare Colloquium transforms healthcare organizations by using process improvement methodology to advance operational efficiencies and patient outcomes through Heart Failure Accreditation. If your healthcare organization is interested in Heart Failure Accreditation, as well as gaining access to our monthly CardioConnect webinar series,contact the Battelle Healthcare Colloquium team. Visit for more information.