Dr. Sarah Friebert is changing the world for pediatric palliative care patients, one step at a time.
As the founder and director of Akron Children’s Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center, she has been caring for patients and families, educating her fellow medical providers and partnering with community members for more than a decade.
During that time, she has become a well-known advocate for pediatric palliative care on a national and international level.
Recently, the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) selected Dr. Friebert to give a keynote speech at its National Seminar on Nov. 7.
CAPC provides healthcare professionals with the tools, training and technical assistance to start and continue successful palliative care programs in hospitals. Dr. Friebert will be the first ever pediatric palliative care specialist to keynote.
“When I found out I was invited to be a keynote speaker, I was very excited,” Dr. Friebert said. “I am thrilled to get pediatrics in the spotlight.”
Her presentation will focus on pediatric palliative care and the medical home model.
“The medical home model focuses on comprehensive care for children and their families,” she said. “It centers care on being timely, accessible, family-centered, coordinated, continuous, compassionate and culturally-sensitive. This model allows us to integrate palliative care into the medical home for children with medical complexity.”
The seminar’s attendees include palliative care providers and those interested in bringing palliative care to their hospitals and communities. She hopes to inspire others to branch out into pediatric palliative care by breaking the stereotypes that surround the discipline.
“We are in need of some rebranding,” she said. “Palliative care is not hospice. Despite decades of educational outreach, it is still thought to be just for terminal patients. Instead, palliative care is actually a great resource for children with complex medical conditions.”
Dr. Friebert added that palliative care focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness, whatever their diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
“I want to break down the existing barriers that make it scary for families and providers,” said Dr. Friebert. “Palliative care should be a key component of healthcare, as it has the capacity to improve healthcare for all in the long run.”