Next-Level Perinatal/Neonatal Comfort Care Training: Creating an Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Plan for Each Baby and Their Family

Perinatal/Neonatal Comfort Care Training - Palliative Care Columbia University SHARP TrainingThis course has been cancelled due to COVID-19. The next Comfort Care Training in NYC will be held in 2021.


The Next-Level Comfort Care Training is a three-day intensive training of seminars and hands-on activity sessions to provide an overview of the methods, elements, and strategies needed to create a comprehensive palliative care plan for the entire perinatal team.

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The Summer 2020 training has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Summer 2021 dates TBD; 9:00am - 5:00pm

Perinatal detection of congenital anomalies leads to the identification of infants who are affected by life-limiting conditions with a short life expectancy Moreover, a significant number of newborns admitted to the neonatal ICU in critical condition face potentially adverse prognoses. Perinatal palliative care offers a plan for improving quality of life of the infant and the family, when extending the baby’s life is no longer the goal of care or the complexity of the medical condition is associated with uncertain prognosis. The evidence base for perinatal palliative care continues to grow. However, there is no consensus about best clinical practice in promoting support for the family or comfort for the neonate. Support for the family is achieved through appropriate pre- and postnatal consults, shared-decision making, and advance care planning. A state of comfort for the neonate is achieved when relational basic needs such as bonding, maintenance of body temperature, relief of hunger/thirst, and alleviation of pain/discomfort are met.

This three-day training is designed for the entire perinatal team: physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other allied health professionals practicing in the perinatal arena (obstetric and neonatology) interested in improving the practice of perinatal palliative care, both nationally and internationally. Health professionals at all career stages are welcome to attend. Capacity is limited to accommodate quality, hands-on training sessions.

Training will cover virtually all aspects of perinatal palliative care, including information about the successful experiences of the Neonatal Comfort Care Program in providing perinatal palliative care for over a decade at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC). Faculty will discuss evidence-based rationale, practical aspects and strategies for implementing and applying aspects of comfort care to provide support for families and achieve a state of comfort for newborns with limiting or life-threatening conditions. Training format includes didactic presentations, practical applications, videos, and Q & A sessions, with special empahasis on hands-on training, case studies, and role-play. Topics to be covered: 

  1. The current state of the science on perinatal palliative care
  2. Strategies to assist families during decision-making processes
  3. Definition and roles of the members of the interdisciplinary team
  4. Essential elements of perinatal palliative consult
  5. Advance care planning
  6. Evidence-based interventions in the prenatal, intrapartum and postnatal periods that promote the health of the mother and family
  7. Essential elements of a neonatal palliative care plan
  8. Identification of potential barriers to institutional uptake of perinatal palliative care

Training objectives:

  1. Become familiar with the essential elements of prenatal and neonatal palliative consult
  2. Ability to adequately perform prenatal and neonatal palliative consult
  3. Ability to identify families’ needs and apply strategies to successfully achieve support when they have a newborn with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition
  4. Ability to identify newborns’ basic needs and apply strategies to successfully achieve a state of comfort for newborns with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions

A draft agenda is available herePlease note that course content and speakers may change.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Nursing Education (CNE)

This course has been approved for CME credits. CNE credits pending

Continuing Medical Education (CME)

  • Accreditation Statement: The Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
  • AMA Credit Designation Statement: The Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons designates this live activity for a maximum of 20.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
    • June 17: 6.75 CME credits
    • June 18: 7.00 CME credits
    • June 19: 7.00 CME credits

Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) 

  • Accreditation Statement: The New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Nursing Professional Development is an approved provider of continuing nursing education by the New Jersey State Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.
  • Credit Designation Statement: No more than TBD contact hours will be provided for attending this program.

​Before the program, all faculty will disclose the existence of any financial interest and/or other relationship(s) (e.g. employee, consultant, speaker’s bureau, grant recipient, research support, stock ownership or any other special relationship) they might have with a) the manufacturer(s) of any commercial product(s) to be discussed during their presentation and/or b) any commercial contributor to this activity. When unlabeled uses are discussed, these will also be indicated.


Several training scholarships are available for this training.



There are no prerequisites or requirements to attend this training.


The Comfort Care Training will take place on the Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) campus in New York City, specifically at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, 722 W. 168th Street, Allan Rosenfield Building 8th Floor Auditorium. Please note that the entrance to the building is on the 10th floor (training is located two floors below entrance).

General transportation and lodging information can be found in the Getting Around section. A PDF map of the Training location on the CUIMC campus will be available closer to training dates. 


"This was a once in a lifetime experience that was a truly priceless part of my professional and medical education; incredibly well run and constructive event! I believe I will not only be a stronger physician as a result of my participation, but also a more compassionate and complete human being." - Jaime S, UCI/Children's Hospital of Orange County, Pediatric Resident

"An excellent and essential conference for medical professionals dedicated to compassionate and comprehensive comfort care for babies." - Crystal B, CHOP Newborn Care at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Neonatologist 

"Outstanding speakers with a vast knowledgebase on the emerging specialty of perinatal/neonatal palliative care with practical information and guidance on implementing comfort care programs. Impressive international attendance - was a fantastic opportunity to network with other professionals who share the passion for providing palliative care for this population." - Michelle F, Penn Medicine, Clinical Nurse Specialist

"The training was informative and inspiring. The atmosphere very much communicated the teamwork, openness, and creativity that goes into perinatal palliative care. I'm now full of ideas to encourage colleagues and institutional partners to pursue this practice model!" - Brigida L, Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, Community Health Nurse

"This conference provided many useful and new ideas to bring back to our team. It was especially helpful to hear from each member of the interdisciplinary team to understand their roles more fully." - University of Utah, Practicing Physician

"Excellent breakdown of the disciplines of comfort care and how they work together, encouraging to see what can happen with hard work to develop a program like the one at Columbia." - Claire B, UNC Health Care, Nursing Care Coordinator​

"The course was well-organised and all the discussions were very interesting and stimulating. I had the opportunity to learn a lot of new and useful thinghs. I was able to solidify the basics of Comfort Care through the different speeches of the members of the Comfort Care team." - Alessia B, C. and G. Mazzoni's Hospital (Italy), Midwife

"With our program just starting, it was a great experience to learn from others who have a more established program. I would recommend this conference to any NICU!" - Hannah S, Children's Hospital of Orange County, Nurse​

"The Comfort Care Training Conference provided a comprehensive approach at how to take care of the whole family: the grieving parents, older siblings, and of course the dying child herself. Evidence based research was always provided in order to back up the holistic education provided." - Monika D

"Incredible to hear of the dedication of the Team, their compassion, their advocacy for supporting and truly engaging with the family to help the family make the decisions for their baby, rather than the couple being told how things would go. Dr. Parravicini is an inspiration! Her love and passion for the best care for the families, and for her Comfort Care Team is tremendous and shows in so many ways as she was teaching us." - Wendy M, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Nurse Practitioner

"Wonderful lectures, info, insight, ideas and examples about how to do this well and efficiently." - Melissa B, Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Fellow

"I deeply enjoyed the didactic modality of this training. Others I have been to before leaned more heavily on parent stories, which indeed are special and have their place.  I had much more to take home and build our program from this experience." - anonymous Social Worker, 2019


Course Director: Elvira Parravicini, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center; Neonatologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital; Department of Pediatrics; Director of Columbia University's Neonatal Comfort Care Program 

Brian Carter, MD, Professor of Pediatrics (Neonatology), and Sirridge Professor of Medical Humanities & Bioethics, University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Medicine, and Children’s Mercy Hospital

Ruth Downing, BSN, RN, Clinical Nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Monica Joshi, MS, CCC-SLP, Speech Language Pathologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Department of Pediatrics

Alexandra Mancini, RN, Lead Nurse Neonatal Palliative Care at the Chelsea & Westminster Foundation Trust & The True Color Trust, London, UK

Frances McCarthy, MS, RNC-NIC, CPLC, Nurse Clinical Coordinator at Columbia University, Department of Pediatrics; Nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital; Department of Pediatrics

Solimar Santiago-Warner, LCSW, CPLC, Instructor at Columbia University School of Social Work; Licensed Social Worker at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Department of Pediatrics

Dorothy Smok, MD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center; Obstetrician at NewYork-Presbyterian, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine

Rochelle Steinwurtzel, PsyD, Instructor in Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry; Clinical Psychologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Department of Pediatrics 

Maryanne Verzosa, MS, CCLS, CEIM, CLC, Child Life Specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Department of Pediatrics

Charlotte Wool, PhD, RN, Associate Professor of Nursing at York College of Pennsylvania; Perinatal Palliative Care Consultant



Registration fees by occupation are listed below.

 Early-Bird Rate (through 4/15/20)Regular Rate (4/16/20 - 6/1/20) Columbia/NYP Discount*
Residents, Fellows, Nurses, and Other Healthcare Providers$595$79510%
Physicians (MD, PhD, DO)$1,295$1,49510%
Industry Professionals $1,495$1,695NA

*Columbia Discount: This discount is valid for any active employee at Columbia University and New York Presbyterian Hospital. To access the Columbia/NYP discount, email for instructions and specify if you are paying by credit card, or internal transfer within Columbia.

Invoice Payment and Group Registrations: If you would prefer to pay by invoice/check, or would like to pay for a group of registrants, please email with details.

Registration Fee: includes course material, breakfast, lunch, refreshment breaks, and CME certificate (if applicable). Course material will be available to all attendees after the workshop and CME certificate will be emailed to applicable participants. Lodging and transportation are not included.  

Cancellations: We are actively monitoring the current COVID-19 outbreak, and developing contingency plans should we be unable to hold in-person trainings. During this time when COVID-19 is an active concern, any registration cancellation related to COVID-19 restriction beyond your control (institutional policy, travel ban, etc.) will be fully refunded and no administrative fee will be assessed. Because of the significant resources required to develop these trainings, you will be asked to submit supporting documentation (e.g. employer email notice, local regulations, etc.) for any cancellation <29 days before a given training. Registered attendees will receive regular communications from our team regarding training updates.

For cancellations not related to COVID-19: Cancellation notices must be received via email at least 30 days prior to the workshop start date in order to receive a full refund, minus a $75 administrative fee to cover the processing fee associated with your initial registration. Cancellation notices received via email 14-29 days prior to the workshop will receive a 75% refund, minus a $75 administrative fee. Please email your cancellation notice to Due to workshop capacity, we regret that we are unable to refund registration fees for cancellations after these dates, unless a new COVID-19 restriction is implemented that impedes attendance. If you are unable to attend the training, we encourage you to send a substitute within the same registration category. Please inform us of the substitute via email at least one week prior to the training to include them on attendee communications, updated registration forms, and materials. Should the substitute fall within a different registration category your credit card will be credited/charged respectively. Please email substitute inquiries to

In the rare event Columbia must cancel the event, your registration fee will be fully refunded.




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Questions? Email the Comfort Care Training team here.

The Next-Level Comfort Care Training is hosted by Columbia University's SHARP Program in the Mailman School of Public Health and the Columbia Neonatal Comfort Care Program. The 2019 Comfort Care Training was supported by an independent educational grant from Mead Johnson Nutrition.

Columbia Neonatal Comfort Care Program