The David Center for Children's Pain & Palliative Care

Update 2005: The David Center will be opening a new Children's Hospital which will have the first Pediatric Hospice Suite at the Hackensack University Medical Center.

Few things are more distressing than to hear the cry of a child in pain. It often leaves parents and caregivers with feelings of helplessness and despair to recognize that a child is experiencing pain, especially in the pain is not being adequately relived. In addition, recent studies have shown that untreated pain in children can have lasting physiological and psychological effects that may create difficulties for years to come.

At Hackensack University Medical Center, the staff of The Children's Hospital is committed to alleviating children's pain whenever possible. Professionals from The David Center for Children's Pain and Palliative Care are specially trained to evaluate and treat pain problems in infants, children, and adolescents, in conjunction with your child's primary caregiver.

The David Center for Children's Pain and Palliative Care is named for David Nehmer, a 12-year-old boy died of leukemia in 1998. Throughout his care, David and his family realized the importance of quality pain management and how pain is often an under recognized area of concern. To honor David's memory and carry out his remarkable desire to help other children, the Nehmer family has helped to make the David Center a reality.

Acute Pain Management

Acute pain has a clear beginning and a relatively clear end. It happens when a child has been injured, has a specific illness, or has undergone various procedures. Our aim in these circumstances is to help the child become pain free with various modalities such as:

Pain Medication

Anesthetic Techniques

Physical Interventions

Psychological Strategies

The goals are to eradicate the pain, improve functioning, and facilitate recovery as quickly as possible.

The David Center's acute pain division functions principally as a consultative service in the medical center.

Chronic Pain

Unfortunately, some children confront recurrent or chronic pain that affects them for an extended period of time, interfering with their ability to function academically and socially. This can be a result of chronic disease, trauma, or other causes that predispose one to ongoing discomfort.

Through a holistic approach, integrating elements of mind and body, the chronic pain program within The David Center strives to enhance functioning and minimize the negative impact of these pain syndromes. The interdisciplinary treatment team approach begins with a comprehensive assessment of the child's pain. Treatment highlights a rehabilitive approach, seeking to improve function and coping. The David Center specializes in treating a number of chronic pain syndromes such as"


Joint and Muscle Pain

Pain Associated With Chronic Illness

Recurrent Abdominal Pain

Pain Associated With Cancer

Interventions for these syndromes include:

State-of-the-art pain medications

Procedures performed by anesthesiologists

Psychological strategies aimed at altering pain experiences

Physical medicine treatments

Alternative/complementary medicine techniques

Specific treatment programs are tailored to the individual needs of children and their families.

Palliative and Supportive Care

Palliative care for children involves all-inclusive, family-centered, compassionate care, aimed at preventing and relieving suffering from those with life-threatening illness. Special attention to the child's physical comfort highlights pain management and other symptom control. Psychological, social, and spirited well-being is also a major focus of the comprehensive approach that is utilized.


Gary A. Walco, Ph.D., Director. Dr Walco has been a major proponent of pain management in children for over 17 years. He is the founder and chairman of the Special Interest Group on Pain in Infants, Children, and Adolescents of the American Pain Society and is a charter member of the Special Interest Group on Pain in Childhood of the International Association for the Study of Pain. He has been principal author of various policy guidelines, conducted numerous studies on assessment and pain management in children, leading to a number of professional publications.

Steven L. Halpern, M.D. FFAP, Associate Director. Dr. Halpern is board certified in pediatric hematology-oncology and has long maintained an interest in pain management and palliative care. Dr. Halpern has received recognition for his outstanding teaching of medical students and residents, including aspects of compassionate care.

Paola M. Conte, Ph.D., Staff Pediatric Psychologist. Dr. Conte is trained as a pediatric psychologist with special interest in the assessment and management of pain in children. She has a number of publications in the area and has conducted research on the relationship between pain, temperament, and stress in adolescents with chronic pain.

Karyl Reid, RN, MSN, CPNP, CS, Clinical Nurse Practitioner. Ms. Reid has substantial experience in pediatric intensive care, including work with neonates and burn patients. In all of these settings, she has developed a great deal of expertise in pain management and palliative care.

The David Center for Children's Pain & Palliatice Care is located in The DON IMUS - WFAN Pediatric Center for Tomorrows Children, a state-of-the-art facility that meets the special needs of children and their families.

For additional information or to make an appointment, call The David Center for Children's Pain and Palliative Care at (201) 996-DAVE (3283).


For more information about The David Center please visit The David Center for Children's Pain and Palliative Care, a division of The Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center