OHSU Doernbecher nurse honored for work caring for children at the end of life

09/13/12  Portland, Ore.

Kathy Perko, M.S., P.N.P., receives Sojourns Award from Cambia Health Foundation

Caring for seriously ill children and their families is difficult work – something most people hope they never have to face. But for OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital nurse practitioner Kathy Perko, it’s a calling.

Perko, the director of the Bridges Palliative Care Program at OHSU Doernbecher, was selected to receive a Sojourns Award from the Cambia Health Foundation. The award recognizes leadership and innovation in the field of palliative and end-of-life care. It also comes with a $50,000 grant, which Perko plans to donate to the Bridges program at OHSU Doernbecher.

“Pediatric palliative care is a very specialized field, and there are few people who do it as well as Kathy does,” said Peggy Maguire, Cambia Health Foundation board chair. “What the Sojourns Award really recognizes, however, is Kathy’s commitment to sharing her expertise with others so that more children have access to the care they need at the end of life.”

In 2001, Perko and her team at OHSU Doernbecher started the first organized palliative care program in Oregon for children with cancer. As time passed, she worked to expand the program to support all children with life-limiting illnesses, and in 2005 the Bridges Palliative Care Program was born. Now Perko has started partnering with hospices around Oregon to help them better care for seriously ill children in their communities. She’s also in the process of starting a pediatric palliative care telehealth program to continue caring for children after they leave the hospital.

As one of her award nominators said, “Work in the pediatric ICU is unfortunately fraught with all too many tragic stories. Families are faced with issues and decisions that no one should ever have to consider for their child. In these times, Kathy has time and again provided families with the care, support and services that are so critical.”

About OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital

OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital ranks among the top 50 children's hospitals in the United States.* It ranks 36th nationally for NIH-awarded pediatric research funding among children's hospitals affiliated with an academic medical center**, and is one of only 22 NIH-designated Child Health Research Centers in the country.

OHSU Doernbecher cares for tens of thousands of children each year from Oregon, Southwest Washington and around the nation, resulting in more than 175,000 discharges, surgeries, transports and outpatient visits annually.

Nationally recognized OHSU Doernbecher physicians and nurses provide a full range of pediatric care in the most patient- and family-centered environment, and travel throughout Oregon and southwest Washington, providing specialty care to more than 3,000 children at more than 150 outreach clinics in 15 locations. In addition, OHSU Doernbecher delivers neonatal and pediatric critical care consultation to community hospitals statewide through its state-of-the-art telemedicine network.

* U.S. News & World Report 2012-13 Best Children's Hospitals
** Children's Hospital Association (formerly the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions)

About Cambia Health Foundation

Cambia Health Foundation is the corporate foundation of Cambia Health Solutions, a total health solutions company dedicated to transforming the way people experience the health care system. A 501(c)3 grantmaking organization, the foundation partners with organizations to create a more person-focused and economically sustainable health care system. Through its Sojourns program, the foundation also works to enhance quality, improve access, advance innovation and facilitate conversations about palliative care and end-of-life issues. For more information, visit http://cambiahealthfoundation.org/ or www.twitter.com/cambiahealthfdn.

The Cambia Health Foundation was previously The Regence Foundation. It recently changed its name to more accurately reflect the name of its parent company, Cambia Health Solutions, Inc.