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Hands Of Hope

Pediatric Professionals Work To Save And Enrich Lives Of Children With Life-Threatening Illnesses

Article by Julie Brown Patton

Photography by Courtesy of Hands Of Hope

Originally published in Lake Murray Lifestyle

Everyone hears about health care compassion coming from the heart, but it also comes from caring hands -- especially through a local program owned by Hospice Care of South Carolina. 

Hands Of Hope is a Columbia-based organization whose medical team members provide pediatric comfort and palliative care for youths. It's the only nationally board-certified, interdisciplinary team available to serve any child living in or visiting South Carolina.

"We're child-centered and family-focused. Our unique model of care seeks to prevent and relieve suffering and ensure the highest possible quality of life. We offer compassionate care that not only addresses physical needs, including pain and symptom management, but also emotional, psychological, social and spiritual needs of the child and family," says Hands Of Hope Medical Director Sharon Beall, MD, HMDC.

Caring for children with life-limiting illnesses is admittedly challenging.  

Dr. Beall says that type of deep-rooted care demands complete understanding of the whole child and family; it requires recognition of the child’s developmental, psychological, physical, spiritual and emotional needs. "It's about respecting family dynamics, cultural and ethnic differences. Whether the child is at home, in the hospital or transitioning in-between, our team members are exceptional, not just in terms of their clinical skills but in their ability to timely respond to the child and family’s needs with sensitivity and compassion," she adds. 

Palliative Care

Ideally, medical professional indicate pediatric palliative care should be offered at the time of a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, such as a chronic, complex condition. Hands Of Hope offers a care consultation model to support families' primary physicians and specialists. Treatment is based on a child's needs, combined with a family's values and beliefs, says Brooke Johnston, Hands Of Hope associate medical director.

She says services can be provided in many settings, including a child's school, home or other places familiar to the youth or family. 

Comfort Care

"At Hands Of Hope, we understand it may be difficult to know when the time is right to consider pediatric comfort care for children, which is why we're here," says Chrystal Davis, Hands Of Hope pediatric clinical coordinator. 

She says the Hands Of Hope team consists of experts in pediatric comfort care who work hard every day to maintain the health, comfort and dignity of children they're assisting. 

"We also work to identify each family's goals, walking hand-in-hand with patients. Whether it's providing emotional support during difficult conversations, facilitating therapeutic activities with all family members, providing grief and bereavement support, or offering assistance with connecting to community resources, we're here to help meet the unique needs of each family," says Chrystal. 

Clinical Services

This team offers multiple hospice diagnosis services:  24/7 clinical pharmacist; age-appropriate pain and symptom management; crisis care; in-home support; assistance with end-of-life preparations; equipment; medications; and supplies. 

Resources for Families

These are resources that their psychosocial team feels are beneficial to families:

  • Sibling Support
  • Parent Support
  • Difficult Conversations
  • Local Support
  • Financial Support
  • Medical Resources
  • Planning for End of Life
  • Grief and Loss Support

Dr. Beall says the pediatric resource team includes 24/7 nurse availability; chaplains and spiritual support; medical social work guidance; nutritional counseling; pediatric volunteers; and certified child life specialists. 

The program serves children in all 46 counties of South Carolina. 

Following is a list of questions to help clarify where someone may be in terms of illness or support. If the answer is yes to any of these queries, the Hands Of Hope board-certified pediatric staff can provide more information.

  1. Has your child’s physician talked with you about the uncertainty of their prognosis?
  2. Has any member of your child’s health care team suggested pediatric comfort care?
  3. Has your child’s medical condition recently declined?
  4. Are hospital and emergency room visits becoming more frequent?

Child Life Wish List Via Hospice & Palliative Foundation

Everyday needs at Hands Of Hope for donors to consider include:

  • Zoo membership guest passes for Riverbanks Zoo
  • Zoo membership guest passes for Greenville Zoo
  • Movie theater passes
  • White canvases (all sizes)
  • White canvases (all sizes)
  • Markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • Flat back canvases (all sizes)
  • Acrylic paint (all colors)
  • Paintbrushes (all kinds and sizes)
  • Washable paint (all colors)
  • Scrapbooking paper
  • Blank journals
  • Stickers
  • Scrapbooks (both blank and ready made)
  • White photo boxes
  • Construction paper
  • Recordable books (i.e., All The Ways I Love You) and photo frames
  • The Invisible String (book)
  • Disposable cameras
  • Gifts cards to use as family needs arise (i.e., Target, Toys-R-Us, Amazon, Michaels, Hobby Lobby)
  • Special event tickets, restaurant gift cards, etc. to offer respite for parents
  • Groups to sew blank dolls that they can use for medical play (template for doll provided)

To make a donation, contact Diane Carlson at 843.409.7991 or