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How Northside’s H.E.A.R.T.strings program uses empathy to support the grieving

The death of a baby, the loss of a pregnancy or the news that your child will face lifelong limitations is undoubtedly one of the hardest things to face. It's a situation no parent wants to be in, but their journey is made a little easier with Northside Hospital's H.E.A.R.T.strings program.

Available on all Northside Hospital campuses, H.E.A.R.T.strings provides support for parents facing these losses and challenges. The acronym stands for key components of the program: Hope, Empathy, Alliance, Resources and Teamwork.

"I just think our program is one of a kind. I truly don't think there's a program in the country anywhere like it," Melissa Petersen, a perinatal bereavement clinician with H.E.A.R.T.strings, said.

"Our long-term goal is to be the gold standard for care," she added.

The program trains staff members to help them know how to best provide needed support to families. Last year, she said, the program trained over 120 staff members, and already this year, over 200 staffers have received training. H.E.A.R.T.strings aims to make sure that anyone who works with patients facing these losses and challenges receives training, including staffers in the emergency room, surgical services, technicians and nurses. Secretaries have also received training.

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