Palliative Care for Children

  • Pediatric Advanced Care Team
  • Medical Center Campus
  • 111 Colchester Avenue
    Burlington, VT, 05401
  • Phone: 802-847-8888
  • Monday-Friday, 8 AM-5 PM
  • Directions

The Vermont Children’s Hospital provides caring and compassionate services for children with life-threatening illnesses. Our goal is to provide the best possible care for children and families including the latest treatments and therapies for pain and symptom management, advance care planning and specialized palliative care.

Palliative care is complementary to other hospital treatment plans and is compatible with therapy designed to prolong life. The difference is that palliative care focuses on comfort, dignity, hope and improving quality of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics describes palliative care as "adding life to a child’s years, rather than years to a child’s life."

Pediatric Palliative Care Team

Staff at the Fletcher Allen Palliative Care Service are committed to a patient- and family-centered approach that puts the needs of your child and family first and foremost.

Our experienced, skilled Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) brings together specialists from different disciplines to address the physical, psychological, spiritual and social needs of your child and family.  This team, which is specially trained in providing palliative care for children, includes the following providers to care for your child:

  • physicians
  • nurses
  • social workers
  • child life specialists
  • chaplains

Robert Macauley, M.D., medical director of clinical ethics at Fletcher Allen, serves as medical director of the PACT team, and is one of fewer than 100 board-certified palliative care pediatricians nationwide.

Palliative Care Services for Children

The PACT team provides services for children from birth through adolescence, focused on the following areas:

  • Management of acute and chronic pain
  • Management of other life-impacting symptoms, such as nausea and difficulty breathing
  • Advance care planning: One of the principles of palliative care is to “hope for the best, and also prepare for the worst.” The PACT team collaborates with other specialties to evaluate the potential outcomes (both good and bad) of possible treatments. Through thoughtful discussion, we help the patient and family arrive at a treatment plan that reflects their values and preferences.
  • Parent and sibling support
  • Bereavement

Conditions Treated

We provide care for a broad range of conditions that fall into the following categories:  

  • Potentially curable conditions, such as cancer and extreme prematurity.
  • Incurable conditions whose course can be altered through intensive treatment, such as muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis.
  • Progressive conditions for which there is only palliative treatment, such as glycogen storage diseases, metabolic disorders that result from a defect in breaking down glycogen into glucose.
  • Conditions which may not impact duration of life but definitely impact quality of life, such as severe cerebral palsy.