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Includes specialty programs: Addiction Services Program

Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center

Our nationally recognized program has served as a model for other organizations in providing care to children, from prenatal to young adult, with complex, chronic or serious medical conditions. Our goal is to enhance your and your child's quality of life in partnership with cure-directed care.

Specialized Care

We offer specialized medical care for children with serious illnesses, including genetic disorders, cancer, prematurity, neurologic disorders, and heart and lung conditions. We focus on relieving symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness and improving quality of life for both your child and family.

We also help with communication and coordination of care. With the close communication we provide, you're better able to choose options that are in line with your values, traditions and culture. This improves the well-being of the entire family.

Team Approach

It takes a specialized team to address the physical, social and emotional aspects of caring for a child with serious medical issues. Not only do we help control pain and other symptoms, we provide support for emotional, psychological, practical, spiritual, educational and developmental issues that may contribute to suffering or interfere with healing.

Our Team Includes:

  • Pediatric palliative care physicians
  • Advanced practice providers
  • Nurse case managers
  • Social workers
  • Bereavement coordinator
  • Chaplain
  • Child life specialists
  • Expressive therapists
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Pharmacists
  • Dietitian
  • Trained volunteers

We work in collaboration with your child’s other healthcare providers and specialists to provide seamless care coordination and communication and help you in making informed choices about difficult medical decisions.

We personalize care for each patient and family, by allowing you to choose from a variety of available services, according to your needs.

When a child faces a chronic condition or a serious illness, families often feel as if life has become a roller coaster ride. We're here to provide support along the journey, no matter what the outcome may be.

Types Of Patients:

Our palliative care program is appropriate when:

  • A complex illness is causing fragmented care, making communication and coordination difficult for a child's healthcare providers
  • Families are in need of additional support and resources
  • Patients can benefit from expert pain and/or symptom management
  • Families would benefit from increased home-based services
  • A child is facing a shortened life expectancy
  • Usual treatment methods are no longer effective or are increasingly burdensome
  • Hospital stays are becoming more frequent
  • A child's condition is declining

Even if your child is in a neonatal or pediatric intensive care unit, or in an acute care setting, he or she can benefit from the pain control, symptom management, care coordination or additional family support offered through our program.

A terminal diagnosis is not required. We care for children with both cancer and non-cancer diagnoses such as leukodystrophy, congenital heart disease, cerebral palsy and mitochondrial disease.

We have found our care to be most beneficial when we begin the journey with the family at the time of diagnosis and continue with them for as long as they may need.

Advancing Pediatric Palliative Care

Our center has earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval by demonstrating compliance with the commission's national standards for healthcare quality and safety in pediatric palliative care.

We strive to integrate legendary, indispensable and individualized pediatric palliative care into the journey for all children, adults and their families living with chronic, complex and/or life-threatening conditions of childhood. We also provide leadership in education, research and advocacy initiatives in pediatric palliative care locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Department Main Image


Contact Palliative Care


Location Small Image
Palliative Care
Akron Children's Hospital Pediatric Palliative Care, Akron
Considine Professional Building
215 West Bowery Street
Suite 6200
Akron, Ohio 44308
Fax: 330-543-3539
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Map & directions
Location Small Image
Palliative Care, Boardman
Akron Children's Hospital Pediatric Palliative Care, Boardman
Leonard J. Fisher Family Building
6505 Market Street, Building A
Suite 1210
Boardman, Ohio 44512
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Map & directions

Our Doctors/Providers

Department Heads:
Sarah Friebert
Sarah Elizabeth Friebert, MD

Director, Pediatric Palliative Care; Pediatric Palliative Care Physician; Sarah Elizabeth Friebert, M.D. Leadership Chair in Pediatric Palliative Care

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Anne Elliott, MD

Pediatric Palliative Care Physician


Laura Gerak, PhD

Pediatric Psychologist


Cassandra Hirsh, DO, FAAHPM

Pediatric Palliative Care Physician


Catherine Kelly-Langen, MD

Pediatric Palliative Care Physician


Mallory Zehe, PsyD

Pediatric Psychologist

Nurse Practitioners/Physician Assistants:

Alisha Hostetler, APRN-CNP

Nurse Practitioner


Daniel Phillips, MSN, APRN-CNP

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner; Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist


Specialty Programs

Open Clinical Studies

Reiki Therapy for symptom management

Reiki therapy is a light touch, non-invasive technique. The study looks at the effects of Reiki therapy on pain, heart rate, respiratory rate, stress, and quality of life in children ages 1 to 5. We hope to provide evidence that Reiki therapy is relaxing and beneficial for children and can improve their quality of life.

More about this study...

Currently recruiting

Family Bereavement within Akron Children's Hospital

The purpose of this study is to learn about adjustment difficulties in bereaved families whose child or sibling was in Pediatric Palliative Care (PPC).  We will be comparing families who have Palliative Care involvement and those that do not.  This study will allow us to understand the benefits of PPC for bereaved families.  We will also be able to investigate other factors such as alcohol use, coping, religion, social support, child-parent conflict, and martial conflict that could lead to positive or negative outcomes of bereaved families. The results from this study will used to develop better family-focused interventions for bereaved families.  

More about this study...

Currently recruiting

Teaching Parents Reiki Therapy

Teaching parents Reiki for their adolescents receiving palliative care.

More about this study...

SHARE Pediatric Palliative Care Study

A study designed to look at patient symptoms, parent distress, goals of care, and hospital cost trajectories.

More about this study...

Currently recruiting

What Should Families Expect When They Come for an Appointment?

At Akron Children’s, your child’s health and safety is our priority. Please continue to bring your child for wellness visits, vaccinations or sick care appointments that keep children healthy. We want to assure you that we have taken additional precautions to ensure a safe environment for your child and family. The following are additional safety efforts, in addition to our normal cleaning protocols, that we are taking to help you be comfortable bringing your child to an appointment.

Limiting the Number of Caregivers and Face Covering

The number of caregivers permitted to accompany a child to an appointment is dependent on the department you are visiting. Everyone visiting an Akron Children's facility is asked to wear masks or face coverings, except for kids under 2 or those with sensory issues. Masks will be provided for visitors who do not bring their own.

Health Screening Station Ahead Sign

Checking In and Screening of Visitors

Akron Children's now offers Mobile Check-in to limit your exposure to others. You'll receive a text an hour before your child's appointment arrival time. Click the link in the text when you reach the Akron Children's facility for your child's appointment. You will receive a confirmation text that reminds you to wait in your car. Once we determine appropriate spacing is available inside the building, you'll receive a third text to let you know it's OK to come in for your appointment.

Immediately upon entering the building, your temperature will be taken, either by a thermal scanner or a greeter who will also ask you a few questions.

If you are in a waiting room, you’ll notice signs and a limited number of chairs. This is to remind our patients to keep 6 feet of physical distance between your family and others.

Precautions If You Suspect Your Child Has COVID-19

Call your child’s healthcare professional if your child is sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing and has been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Your health care professional will work with Ohio’s public health department and the CDC to determine if your child needs to be tested for COVID-19.

View all the safety precautions Akron Children's is taking.

Palliative Care Funds

Whether suffering is physical, emotional, social, spiritual or practical, Akron Children’s Hospital’s palliative care team provides treatment to relieve symptoms and conditions that cause distress and detract from a child’s enjoyment of life.

Help support this important program by donating to one of the funds benefitting the Haslinger Family Center for Pediatric Palliative Care.

  • Colin James Carr Endowment Fund supports bereavement services and programs.
  • Courage for Carina Gift Card Fund provides funds to purchase gift cards for use by patients and/or families for groceries, clothing, gasoline, etc. Visit for more information.
  • Cushwa Family Pediatric Palliative Care Fund supports department staff with the intent on enhancing provision of home-based services for patients with life-threatening illness and their families.
  • Austin Michael Davis Memorial Endowment Fund provides funding to support and enhance the projects and services of the Palliative Care Center.
  • Sarah Elizabeth Friebert, MD, Leadership Chair in Pediatric Palliative Care Fund supports the director of the Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center.
  • Sarah Elizabeth Friebert, MD, Leadership I Pediatric Palliative Care Fund #2 provides funds to help support the Director of the Pediatric Palliative Care Center.
  • The Lauren Ellen Gartner, Forever in Our Hearts, Memorial Fund supports the Expressive Therapy Program.
  • Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center Fund helps defray unreimbursed costs associated with the center.
  • Manny Rodriguez Patient Safety Education Fund supports the efforts to reduce or eliminate medical errors and improve patient safety.
  • The Stan and Roberta Marks Music Therapy Fund helps fund the music therapy program within the Emily Cooper Welty Expressive Therapy Center at Akron Children’s Hospital.
  • Palliative Care General Fund provides support for equipment, supplies and education.
  • Pediatric Palliative Care Education Fund supports programs, activities and supplies (equipment, books, travel, etc.) deemed beneficial to enhancing the education of the Pediatric Palliative Care team members, including those specializing in medicine, nursing, bereavement, case management, psychosocial support (social work, psychology, child life, spiritual care), nutrition, rehabilitation therapy, expressive therapy, and others.
  • The Pediatric Palliative Care (PPC) Family Fund assists families coping with the extreme financial stress of caring for children who have complex, chronic or serious medical conditions. The fund helps families with groceries and nutritional needs, transportation assistance, burial expenses and household expenses, primarily for families who do not meet the financial requirements of other assistance programs. Special items or experiences can also be funded for siblings. 
  • River of Life Fund supports families coping with the extreme financial stress of caring for a child with a complex, chronic or serious medical condition and assists with urgent expenses to allow families to stay at their child's bedside during a catastrophic illness.  
  • The Hazel L. McKenna Memorial Fund provides support for bereavement, equipment and supplies for outpatient or inpatient use (when hospital resources are not available), as well as education, research and patient support.

Educational Opportunities

The Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center offers a variety of educational opportunities for students.

A 1-year or 2-year Fellowship is offered to physicians who have completed an accredited residency in pediatrics, IM/peds or family practice and wish to subspecialize in Pediatric Palliative Care.

A 4-week elective is offered to palliative care fellows in other accredited programs to enhance their pediatric knowledge.

A 4-week elective is offered to residents in accredited training programs.

A 4-week elective is offered to 4th-year medical students in accredited programs.

Shadowing experiences are offered to trainees in other programs or at other levels.


Learn more about educational opportunities for Residents and Students:

Palliative Care Elective (Medical Students)