Palliative Care Program

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness-whatever the diagnosis. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for the child or young adult and their family. Palliative care services are appropriate at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided at the same time as life-prolonging treatment.

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About the Palliative Care Program

Palliative care is provided by a specialized interdisciplinary team, including a doctor, nurse, social worker, and other specialists who work together with your child’s healthcare providers to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is a holistic approach to care that focuses on the child's body, mind, and spirit, and also involves giving support to the family.

  • Palliative care is appropriate at any age and any stage in a serious illness.
  • Palliative care may be provided along with curative or life-prolonging treatment.

Who may benefit from Palliative Care?

  • Anyone with a serious illness, regardless of life expectancy
  • Newborns, infants, children, and young adults with complex medical conditions including cancer, heart disease, genetic illnesses and disorders related to prematurity


Contact Information

Please contact one of the members of our care team, Mon-Fri, 8:30 AM - 5 PM:

Christy Torkildson RN, PHN, PhD
Program Coordinator, Nurse
Phone: (510) 428-3768
Marta Friedman, LCSW, ACHP-SW, JD
Social Worker/Bereavement
Phone: (510) 428-3885 ext. 4787
Vivienne Newman, MD
Medical Director
Phone:(510) 428-3712

After-hours: For after-hour emergent palliative care needs only, call the hospital operator and ask for the on-call Social Worker to assist you.
Phone: (510) 428-3000

Clinical Support

  • Care coordination and consultation
  • Continuity after discharge and between hospital admissions as needed
  • Specialized pain and symptom prevention and relief

Patient and Family Care

  • Physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support
  • Guidance with advanced care planning and decision making about goals of care
  • Care coordination and referrals to hospital and community resources
  • Collaboration with art, music, and other therapists
  • Address cultural and religious considerations
  • Sibling support
  • Private, spacious, home-like Reflection Room

Bereavement Support

  • Emotional support and counseling
  • Memory making activities
  • Referrals to community services
  • Grief and bereavement support group
  • Ongoing support over time

Gifts & Memorials

The Palliative Care Program is supported completely by donations and grants. Many of the services we offer in the palliative care program are not reimbursed to us. Every donation and memorial gift large or small to Children’s Palliative Care Program makes a difference and is greatly appreciated.

To make a gift to support the Palliative Care Program, contact the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Foundation at (510) 428-3814 or donate directly online. <

  • When making your gift, select: Other' from the dropdown menu under 'I want my funds to support...'
  • Enter the Palliative Care Program into the field.

The Palliative Care Program is provided by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and does not discriminate by age, race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, handicap/disability or religious beliefs.

Additional Information