Emergency Department

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Perinatal Palliative Care Program

Perinatal loss is a unique lifelong parenting and bereavement experience. The purpose of the UnityPoint Health – Meriter Perinatal Palliative Care Program (PPCP) is to assure that services are provided to families whose baby has a life limiting illness and is expected to die within a limited time after birth. This is accomplished through an interdisciplinary and holistic approach.

The Program

The Perinatal Palliative Care Program (PPCP) is a component of the Meriter. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Program that helps families whose infants are diagnosed prenatally with a life-limiting condition such as Trisomy 13, Trisomy 18, anencephaly, or bilateral renal agenesis. Before it was discovered that a baby's life may be short there were plans for before, during and after his or her birth. Although those plans change, the goal of perinatal palliative care is to make the time with the baby meaningful in a way that is best for the family.  Families are looking for compassionate, family-centered care. The PPCP helps families preserve hope while preparing for the possibility or certainty of the death of their baby. The PPCP offers families continuity of care with the knowledge that a variety of resources are available to them.

Your Care Team 

The Pregnancy & Infant Loss Program utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to caring for grieving families. It is a collaborative effort between physicians, spiritual care, nursing, social work and program staff.

Program Coordinators

The role of the program coordinator is to manage program planning, coordination, and quality monitoring to ensure that all patients at UnityPoint Health - Meriter hospital who experience a pregnancy loss or neonatal death receive high quality and compassionate bereavement care. The coordinators also work directly with families and carry a caseload of families for whom they provide follow-up support.

Staff Nurse

The role of the staff nurse is to provide anticipatory guidance, empathetic support, information, and options to parents from the time of admission until discharge from the hospital. The staff nurse is to follow and carry out the standard of care for bereaved families on his/her unit.

Grief Support Staff

Grief Support staff are members of the health care team (nurses, chaplains, social workers and genetic counselors) who have completed a bereavement counselor training program. The main difference between the role of a staff nurse and the Grief Support staff is that in addition to providing anticipatory guidance, empathetic support, information, and options, Grief Support staff provide follow-up support to parents for up to one year or for as long as the Grief Support counselor deems necessary. Grief Support staff do not provide mental health counseling or therapy. They function in a supportive role to bereaved families. Grief Support staff will refer families to the appropriate community mental health professional if families' grief becomes complicated by other factors.

Social Worker 

The perinatal social workers in the program have been trained as Grief Support staff. The social workers may function as grief support staff for some families and as social workers for other families, depending on the need.

Hope, Understanding, Grief, Support Program (HUGS)