Palliative Care Expert Improves Quality of Life

Seven Hills Pediatric Center in Groton, MA is reaping benefits from having a medical director who is also a nationally-recognized expert on palliative care for children and young adults with severe neurological impairment.

“Most people think of palliative care as end-of-life care, and it can be, but in the pediatric population is also about how to enhance their days,” says Julie M. Hauer, M.D.
Since becoming Medical Director in 2011, Dr. Hauer has conducted staff workshops to strengthen identification of pain and discomfort.  This has resulted in symptom improvement, increased awareness and reduced spasticity in at least a third of residents, she said.

“Dr. Hauer’s knowledge in this developing field has improved quality of life for our residents, who have profound impairment and complex medical needs,” said Holly Jarek, Vice President and Executive Director of the long term care facility.
“Today we have a better understanding of how to manage the degree of distress an individual is experiencing,” said Dr. Hauer.  “We try to integrate symptom alleviation into treatment options.”

Families sometimes face difficult decisions about surgery or painful treatment options for their child.  Dr. Hauer makes it a priority to be available to address questions and concerns.  She discusses benefits and risks from a palliative perspective, so they can make informed choices that provide the best possible life for their child. 
“There are limits to what medicine can do,” the medical director said.  “My goal is to help these children have quality days.”

Dr. Hauer’s credentials include two years as a primary care pediatrician, 14 years treating children with neurological impairment at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Minnesota, and later directing its  pediatric palliative care program. 

She currently holds a faculty appointment in the division of general pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital where she also completed a fellowship in pediatric palliative care. As medical director she is responsible for the health of 83 residents.
Visit www.sevenhills.org/affiliates/pediatric-center to learn more about the center.