Reporting Mary Bubala
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s the first of its kind in Maryland and all of the U.S.: a hospice for children with terminal illnesses.
Mary Bubala reports it’s difficult to think about, but for many families, this new center fills a void during the most painful time.
Right off MLK Boulevard in Baltimore City now sits Dr. Bob’s Place. It’s a hospice facility for children named after Dr. Bob Irwin. The well-known pediatrician felt strongly children needed a place to die with love, comfort and care—just like adults.
“So often children died in an intensive care unit setting and he worried they weren’t comfortable. He worried their pain and symptoms weren’t being managed well,” said Dr. Bob’s Place Director Janet Will.
So, years before his death in 2001, Dr. Bob started fundraising. Others followed and now his dream is a reality. The $4.6 million facility opened early last month.
“I love how it feels. It feels happy, it feels comforting. It feels like home,” said Dr. Bob’s Place Executive Director Charlotte Hawtin.
The first patient moved in Monday. There are 10 rooms and other common rooms to make the children—from babies to 18-year-olds—feel at home.
All of the patients’ rooms are private. There’s enough room for a mom or dad to sleep with their child every night if they want to.
Dr. Bob’s Place is new, but its pediatric staff—nurses, doctors and social workers—have decades of experience in end of life care.
“What’s so unique about them compared to adults is that they don’t want to be in bed. They want to be in the playroom; they want to watch a movie; they want to sit and have popcorn with Mom and Dad and what we have to do is help them get comfortable enough and provide enough supportive care so they can do those things,” Will said.
Funding for Dr. Bob’s Place came from grants and local foundations, as well as from the city and the state.