Compass Care

Compass Care

When a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening or life-limiting condition, even before birth, families face complex decisions and unimaginable demands on time, energy and resources.

Compass Care, the pediatric palliative care program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, works closely with your child's medical team to optimize his or her quality of life, while providing cutting-edge medical care and support. Our mission is to help your child live as well as possible for as long as possible.

This includes more than physical wellness. We provide emotional, social and spiritual care to enhance your family's strengths, capacity to cope and quality of time together.

Who May Benefit from Palliative Care

We care for children with many complex medical conditions, diagnosed prenatally or after birth, including cancer, cystic fibrosis, seizure disorders, heart disease, genetic or metabolic illnesses and disorders related to prematurity.

You and your child may benefit from palliative care if:

  • Your unborn baby or your child has a complex medical condition.
  • You must make difficult medical decisions on behalf of your unborn baby or your child.
  • You would like to better understand the information you receive from your child's medical team.
  • Your child experiences frequent pain and other distressing symptoms, which are becoming more difficult to manage.
  • Your child's hospital stays or treatments are becoming more frequent and difficult to manage.
  • You are worried your child's medical condition is not responding to medical treatments.

Principles of Compass Care

Care: We provide physical, emotional, social and spiritual care, with the goal of improving your child's quality of life and relieving suffering. This includes pain and symptom management and, when necessary, specialized care at the end of life.

Hope: Maintaining hope is a powerful tool for coping with a medical crisis and uncertain outcomes. Regardless of whether your child's medical goals involve curative, life-prolonging or end of life comfort-directed therapies, we strive to honor your family's wishes. These may change over time and we support you at each point of your difficult journey.

Resources: We help you take full advantage of UCSF and community resources that may be helpful to your family. We work closely with your child's doctors, nurses, social workers, child life specialists, spiritual care staff and pharmacists to maximize available resources.

Choice: We are committed to helping your family make difficult decisions. This means providing honest information about treatment options and exploring choices that honor your family's personal, cultural and religious beliefs.

Our Team

Our specialized team works closely with your child's health care providers to ensure that we meet your child's physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs at all stages of care.

Dr. Stephen Wilson
Medical Director, Compass Care

Karen Sun
Associate Medical Director

Dr. Audrey Foster-Barber
Pediatric Palliative Care Specialist, Child Neurologist

Robin Kramer
Co-Director and Coordinator, Compass Care
Advanced Practice Nurse, Pediatric Oncology and Palliative Care

Lisa Purser
Patient Care Manager of Integrated Pediatric Pain & Palliative Care

Kelsey Lythcott
Program Analyst

Our Services

Our services are available to every patient who may benefit from palliative care, including pregnant mothers, children, young adults and their family members.

Clinical Support

We can help you and your child with:

  • Pain and symptom management to improve quality of life
  • Care coordination and continuity
  • Decision making around treatment options
  • Discussions about medical interventions and quality of life
  • Guidance for managing advanced illness and complex care
  • Discharge planning to determine palliative care needs
  • Referral to community resources, such as home and hospice care and other therapeutic services

Family Support

Our Family Support Program is for families whose children are in the hospital. Weekly activities include:

  • Knitting social group
  • Scrapbooking workshop
  • Chair massages for parents
  • Stress management classes for parents
  • Infant massage instruction for parents
  • Creating free family websites
  • Sibling resources and support information
  • Family resource library
  • Professional family photography

Please see our schedule of weekly activities.

Bereavement Support

In the unfortunate circumstance that a family experiences the loss of their unborn baby or child, we offer grief support and bereavement services. While you are in the hospital, we provide:

  • Emotional support and counseling services
  • Private comfort care rooms
  • Professional family photography
  • Memento making materials
  • A variety of books about coping with grief and loss
  • Assistance in exploring the option of home care or hospice support

Once you return home we offer:

  • Telephone grief counseling
  • Support groups for bereaved parents
  • Memorial services
  • Referral to community grief resources
  • Grief support correspondence

Staff Support

Caring for children with life-threatening conditions poses unique challenges for caregivers.

We help health care providers develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that promote optimal palliative care for their patients. We provide extensive education and training to UCSF staff, as well as local, regional and international health care providers.

Related Information

Ways to Give

How to Reach Us

For more information or to make a donation, please contact:

Compass Care
Integrated Pediatric Pain & Palliative Care — IP3
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, Room A-4519
1855 4th Street, Box 4040
San Francisco, CA 94143-0106
Phone: 415-353-1328
Fax: 415-353-3729

See our online bookstore for books written or recommended by our hospital staff.