Advances in prenatal testing and diagnosis have resulted in more parents learning during pregnancy that their child may die before or shortly after birth. These advances in testing and diagnosis have also resulted in more parents choosing, despite the diagnosis, to continue their pregnancies and pursue a palliative approach to their infant's short life. Perinatal hospice and palliative care is a growing model of care developed in response to these parents' previously unmet needs. A seldom-discussed opportunity to provide this care exists in outlying community hospitals, which are ideally placed to provide care close to home for families who have chosen comfort measures and time with their child.
This article reviews the definition and utility of perinatal palliative care, the population it serves, attempts to support a rational for development of community-based programs, and describes one community hospital's experience with perinatal palliative care in their community.*
This article describes the development and processes of a perinatal palliative care program at a community hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Implications for Practice:
Perinatal palliative care can be developed with the assistance of already existing training materials, resources, and staff. While the cohort of patients may be small, implementing perinatal palliative care in a community setting may result in wider availability of this care and more accessible options for these families.
Implications for Research:
Research possibilities include developing a template for creating a perinatal palliative care program at community hospitals that could be replicated elsewhere; assessing parental satisfaction and quality indicators of perinatal palliative care at community hospitals and at referral hospitals; and assessing outcomes in various settings.