Each year, tens of thousands of families receive devastating news: a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. After the initial shock wears off, what comes next is very important. Children and families need to have their physical, emotional and spiritual needs met. In 2005, the state of Florida and the Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Association (FHPCA) recognized the importance of support for these families, and so the Partners in Care: Together for Kids Program was created. Today, the Partners in Care program is a partnership between the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Florida Department of Health—Children’s Medical Services (CMS), FHPCA and organizations like Chapters Health System.
At Chapters Health, two of our affiliates offer the Partners in Care program specifically for children and adolescents up to age 21 in Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough and Polk counties. Patients receive curative care for their potentially life-threatening medical conditions from staff members who are specially trained in pediatric palliative care.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is a medical specialty that focuses on the relief of suffering for patients with life-threatening illnesses. It’s NOT the same as hospice, which is for patients who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses and have agreed to discontinue curative treatments. Palliative care helps to ease pain, add comfort and improve quality of life for patients. With reduction of pain and better treatment tolerance for their illness, patients who receive early palliative care potentially experience improved quality of life.
Besides medical services, the Partners in Care program offers palliative care, which includes:
- Pain and symptom management
- Therapeutic counseling for child and family
- Respite care
- Specialized nursing and personal care
- Bereavement counseling
Who Can Receive Partners in Care Services?
In order to be eligible for Partners in Care services, children must meet the following criteria:
- Enrolled in the CMS Plan
- Diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or condition by a CMS physician
- Reside within the service area of the provider, such as Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough and Polk counties for Chapters Health affiliates
What are the Steps to Sign Up for the Partners in Care Program?
If you would like to sign up for the Partners in Care program, the first step is to speak with your CMS care coordinator, who can send a referral request to your CMS doctor to sign. Once the referral is approved by your CMS doctor, a Chapters Health program representative will contact you.