Pediatric Palliative Care
Pediatric Palliative Care

Pediatric Palliative Care

Pediatric Palliative Care at Children's Mercy provides support for infants, children, and adolescents with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. We support the treatment of underlying illnesses while striving to provide the best quality of life possible for our patients. Palliative care is often introduced at the time of diagnosis, and we work with patients' primary health care teams to provide ongoing support.

Palliative Care Team

Our team includes five nurses and two physicians along with Spiritual Services, Child Life Services and Social Work departments at Children’s Mercy.

Jennifer S. Linebarger
Medical Director, Palliative Care; Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine

Emily Riegel, MD, Palliative Care Physician

Robin Neill, BSN, RN
Kathryn Prall, BSN, RN, CPN
Mary Ann Riesco, MS, RN, CHPPN, Nurse Manager
Tonja K. Spencer, BSN, RN, CPN, CHPPN, Palliative Care Nurse
Aly Voigt, BSN, RN, CPN, Palliative Care Nurse

Department Highlights

  • We work with patients and family to understand what quality of life means to them.
  • Our team provides support to help parents consider what interventions are best for their children.
  • We develop comprehensive, individualized care plans that include curative, supportive, and comfort care.

A Collaborative Approach

Once a patient's physician refers them to the Palliative Care Team, we work in collaboration to address:

  • Communication
  • Goals and values
  • Ways to enhance quality of life
  • Symptom management
  • Advanced care planning, including end-of-life care

Services are offered in outpatient and inpatient settings, and telephone consultations are always available. Our goal is to provide patients and families with a sense of security and comfort. Many of the Palliative Care Team's patients have complex illnesses that involve multiple services, and our team provides continuity and support as patients and families navigate the healthcare system.

Making Informed Decisions for a Quality Life

Quality of life is defined by what a person thinks is important about living. For your child and family, quality of life may mean going to school, playing with friends, or being pain-free.

Our team will provide expert support for families as they face questions such as:

  • What is most important regarding my child's quality of life?
  • How will this treatment affect my child's quality of life?
  • What is likely to happen without treatment?
  • How will this treatment change my child's prognosis?
  • What will it be like for my child to go through this treatment?
  • What will it be like for my family if my child goes through this treatment?
  • Is this treatment something that will improve the way my child feels?
    • If yes, for how long will he or she feel better?
  • Is this treatment something that could make my child feel worse?
    • If yes, for how long might he or she feel worse?
  • Are there other options we should consider that might have the same outcome but with a different approach?

Medical Education


Training for fellows and residents

The Palliative Care Team (PaCT) at Children's Mercy Kansas City participates in the training residents and fellows. Opportunities range from sessions about grief and loss, to a one-month rotation with PaCT.

Training for Nurses

PaCT provides training for nursing and care assistant orientation. Our innovative approach includes utilizing scenes from Lion in the House, a format presented at the 2011 National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization annual meeting.

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