Children’s Palliative Care Center Opens “Magnolia House” In Elizabeth

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ELIZABETH – Circle of Life Children’s Center, which provides compassionate care to seriously ill and dying children and their families, has relocated from Newark to a more spacious home on monastery grounds in Elizabeth.

The center will continue its presence at University Hospital in Newark, but will be able to expand the services it provides to children and families at its new facility, called ‘Magnolia House,’ on the grounds of Saint Walburga’s Monastery on North Broad Street in Elizabeth.

“We wanted a quiet place away from the hospital where we can establish support groups for our children, families and caregivers, and where people can feel at home,” said Laurence E. Flint, MD, MS, MBA, FAAP, who is president of Circle of Life Children’s Centers Board of Directors.

“We bring families out of the darkest of times and help to make sense of inexplicable hardship,” said Norma Godin Millison, executive director of Circle of Life Children’s Center. “Our new location is huge step in the organization’s growth and important to our continued success. We hope the community will give us all the support they can as we undertake the next level in our growth to help our children and their stressed families,” she said.

The organization was founded in 2002 by Dr. James Oleske, the infectious disease specialist internationally known for his work with pediatric AIDS, Lynn Czarniecki, an advanced practiced nurse, Godin Millison and other committed individuals who recognized the need to ease the suffering of children with life-limiting medical conditions in a way that did not exist.

“We do not want any child to endure unnecessary suffering, and we work to maintain quality of life for as long as possible. We also believe we must support families through their child’s death, if that happens, and the ensuing bereavement process,” said Dr. Oleske.

Nurses from the program visit families in hospitals as well as in their homes, where they work to ease pain, reduce unnecessary trips to the hospital, and help families make end-of-life decisions during extremely stressful and confusing times. Many of the families come from poor and underserved communities.

The center has helped more than 580 children, including children with rare genetic disorders and serious and rare forms of pediatric cancer. They also have supported families of newborns with serious disorders who wanted to take their babies home, where they died surrounded by family instead of in a hospital. More recently, the center has also been called to work with children who have been victims of violence. The center’s physicians and nurses help parents understand their child’s medical condition and prognosis and facilitate communicate with other health care professionals.


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