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Pain and Palliative Care

NIH Bereavement Service

  • The Bereavement Program is run by the Pain and Palliative Care Services of the NIH Clinical Center. It is a one year follow-up service for the family/significant other of patients who have died who have participated on a protocol treatment at the Clinical Center.

  • Physicians, nurses, research nurses and case managers serve as the point of contact for notifying PPCS of a patient’s death. Each patient care unit has a box that is usually placed at the center nursing station for the sympathy cards to be available for staff to sign.

  • Within several weeks of the death, family members will be contacted via mail with a condolence card and written material on grief support signed by their care givers. Within the second month the family will be contacted by phone. The purpose of this call is twofold; first, to determine whether or not they wish to receive further contact, and secondly, to evaluate the family for the risk of complicated grief. The family members will also have an opportunity to ask any unanswered questions they may have and to voice their feelings. Additional calls are made at month 6 and at one year after death.

  • The volunteer is trained in using an assessment tool that screens for complicated grief. Clients who are determined to be at a high risk for complicated grief, will be given referrals in their local area for treatment or clinical Center Social Workers should the need be identified.

  • PPCS and Pediatrics both hold their annual memorial services for staff to grieve the loss of patients and to honor their memory.

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This page last updated on 03/03/2021

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