Golisano Nurses Devoted to Supporting Grieving Parents
By Marianne Benjamin
Wednesday, October 14, 2020 4:06 PM
“One of the hardest things for parents is when they see their child for the last time, and have to leave the child in the room and exit alone,” said Jennifer Pasley, RN, pediatric nurse. “That’s why we created Charlie’s Way, an alternative route where parents can choose to accompany their child to an outdoor location to meet the funeral director directly instead of the child’s body being sent to the morgue. This has the potential to reduce a significant amount of anxiety for the family envisioning their beloved child going to the morgue.”
Charlie’s Way is an available option to families of children of all ages who die at the hospital and don’t need an autopsy or further medical testing. Pasley, Barbra Murante, PNP, and pediatrician Dr. Rachel Diamond spearheaded the project and worked with families and the palliative care team to create this opportunity. “It was a passion project for us, and parents are grateful for the offering,” said Pasley.
Creating Charlie’s Way involved the work of many staff, several hospital departments, and policy changes. “It was a wonderful team effort,” said Murante. Departments including Pediatric Palliative Care, Pathology, Admitting, Social Work and all of Pediatrics were involved. “We would like to especially thank the bedside nurses, Sue Bezek, RN, MS, PPCNP-BC, Golisano’s Chief Nursing Officer, and Dr. Tim Stevens for their support. Everyone involved wanted to help and wanted to make this happen.”
The path to the outside is private. “Sometimes it is the first time parents are outside of the hospital with their child so we wanted to make it a meaningful experience,” said Pasley. “Families who lost a child prior to the introduction of Charlie’s Way have spoken about the traumatic effect of leaving their child in the room and exiting the hospital without them, and how much they would have appreciated this as an option.”
Since the program was introduced in May 2019, Pasley and Murante (pictured above) have held many educational sessions for funeral directors, nursing staff, and other hospital staff to educate all involved and ensure that policies and procedures were in place.
Charlie’s Way is named in honor of Charlie Danger Williams (March 16–May 1, 2019) who was born with infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia and fought valiantly for the duration of his short life. On the morning of his passing, his family members accompanied him out of the building via this direct route. His parents and the staff at Golisano Children’s Hospital wanted to make this option available to other families experiencing a loss and they hope that walking this path helps parents experiencing loss have some solace in their difficult time.