UCSF’s Stad Center Will Cater to Pediatric Pain Management

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

Share this article:

Share article via email
pain management in pediatric sickle cell disease | Sickle Cell Disease News | Stad Center | illustration of children

The UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in California has announced the addition of the Stad Center for Pediatric Pain, Palliative & Integrative Medicine, which is tailored for treating pain in children with disorders such as sickle cell disease.

Harboring one of the most innovative and comprehensive programs of its kind in the U.S., the Stad Center was established following a $3 million gift from Elisa and Marc Stad.

It will be led by Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD, an internationally known pediatrician specializing in pain management and palliative medicine. Friedrichsdorf served as medical director of the department of Pain Medicine, Palliative Care & Integrative Medicine from 2005 to  2020.

“From being a child who was in and out of medical centers for asthma treatment to parenting a young family of my own, I understand the inherent fear children have of the hospital experience,” Elisa Stad, a member of the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals board, said in a press release.

“Children affected by severe illness are grappling with so much more than a clinical diagnosis. Many are also experiencing trauma, anxiety, social isolation and chronic pain, which requires a holistic approach that can address all of these conditions simultaneously,” added Elisa Stad, a former international marketing executive.

Recommended Reading

Pain Management Guidelines for Sickle Cell Disease

The Stad Center includes specialized teams and offers consultations by experts powered by state-of-the-art technology and innovative techniques. These include advanced and safe pain medications, nerve blocks and implantable medication pumps.

Eastern medicine therapies, including acupuncture, acupressure, massage, meditation, and clinical hypnosis also are offered. Elisa Stad, during a visit to the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center (SCMC), one of the top pediatric hospitals in Asia, was struck how both Western and Eastern medicine were incorporated into children’s treatment.

In the past 12 months, 8,000 children were followed at Stad Center, either as  inpatients or outpatients. To be able to increase the number of consultations, a group of eight clinicians waw hired, including physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and specialists in Eastern medicine.

“I often hear from my colleagues nationwide that we don’t have enough staff. But our commitment at UCSF is to do everything possible to prevent and treat pain for every child, every time,” said Friedrichsdorf.

In the next three years, a new UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals “Comfort Promise” will be part of the the Stad Center.

Under Friedrichsdorf’s leadership, the center treatment philosophy to address pediatric pain includes both Eastern and Western medicine concepts.

“Children with unrelieved pain turn into adults with much higher rates of chronic pain, anxiety and depression,” said Friedrichsdorf.

The center also specializes in pediatric palliative care with the intent of improving the quality of life of children with untreatable diseases and allowing them to live in the best possible manner.

“Physical, emotional and spiritual pain are among the greatest challenges children face when seriously ill,” said Stephen Wilson, MD, PhD, chief medical officer and pediatric pain specialist who led an early program of pediatric pain and palliative care at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco.

“The Stads’ philanthropic support has brought to life Dr. Friedrichsdorf’s vision of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and integrative approach to pediatric pain. With this center, our hospitals can harness both cutting-edge science and traditional integrative practices to improve our patients’ lives and lead the nation in providing integrative medicine to manage pediatric pain,” he added.

Friedrichsdorf also aims to increase awareness and educate the medical staff about pain management and prevention, an area often under-appreciated in formal medical training.

Part of the funds donated by the Stads will fund research, including patient comfort surveys and cross-referencing data from 10 hospitals to help identify areas within the UCSF that need improvement.

In collaboration with Andrea Postier, PhD, the center will conduct clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of new strategies targeting pain management  of pediatric sickle cell disease.

“Through the Stad Center, Elisa and I aim to support UCSF’s efforts to offer every child sufficient access to world-class, integrative and innovative medical care,” said Marc Stad, founder and managing partner at Dragoneer Investment Group.