AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — It’s a journey that’s come full-circle for Dr. Sharon Beall, the newly named medical director for the Pediatric Palliative Care and Hospice Program at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
A 1990 graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, she is also an associate professor in the MCG Department of Pediatrics. After being in private practice in Augusta for many years, Dr. Beall used her experience with some of her own patients to move into the field of palliative care.
The following is from an Augusta University news release:
Pediatric palliative care teams are typically comprised of specially-trained doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and child life specialists that add an “extra layer of support” for patients and their caregivers. A primary focus of a palliative care team is honoring caregivers’ wishes for the child’s care across care settings — inpatient, outpatient and at home — and coordination between their primary and specialty care teams.
Care can begin at any stage of an illness and can be provided along with curative treatments, even in the setting of hospice care.
In the pediatric population patients are often born with multiple congenital anomalies that create the need for palliative care support from birth. Pediatric hospice care is typically delivered when a child’s life expectancy is less than six months.
“Many pediatric patients are receiving curative and life-prolonging treatments which result in clinical improvements that allow them to ‘graduate’ from hospice. That is a huge source of joy for our team.”
Beall began her work in palliative care in 2011, while still working as a general pediatrician in private practice. She completed multiple independent training programs covering topics from symptom management and caregiver support to end-of-life nursing education and hospice interdisciplinary team support.
From 2011-17, she served on a contract basis as the service director of hospice and palliative care for AU Health. In that role she was responsible for the development of an inpatient hospice care program for both pediatric and adult patients and served as a palliative care consultant for pediatric patients. She has also served as medical director for several adult and pediatric hospice programs.
In 2016, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal appointed her to serve on Georgia’s Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council.
Beall completed her pediatric residency at MCG and CHOG in 1994 and served on the medical school’s faculty from 1994-2017.