Friends of Karen social worker Beth Ferrari and 13-month-old Nayelis during a hospital visit.

For Health Professionals

  • Friends of Karen was founded in 1978 by one compassionate woman, Sheila Petersen, who rallied her local community to help one family bring their daughter, Karen MacInnes, home from the hospital to live her remaining days with her family.
  • We believe that families can maintain a sense of balance and stability even in the midst of a health crisis. This belief fuels our personal advocacy for families caring for a child with cancer or another life-threatening illness, ensuring they receive the financial, emotional and practical support they so desperately need.
  • We partner with 23 world-class hospitals in the New York tri-state region that have a pediatric oncology departmentand/or pediatric transplant unit..

"There can be nothing worse in this world than a family witnessing the suffering of their child with a life threatening illness.  Friends of Karen continues to be there for them.  The financial, professional and emotional support that the organization provides during these difficult times is literally a life-preserver for these families."
David T. Hannan, MD, MPA, President of the Medical Society of the State of New York


For Health Professionals

For Health Professionals
For Health Professionals

The vast majority of families who come to Friends of Karen for assistance are referred through a hospital social worker. This section will help health professionals determine whether a family is eligible for our assistance, and understand our referral procedures. As a partner in helping these families, you are key to this process.

The initial referral for a family should come through their hospital social worker. This will ensure that families meet our guidelines before the family contacts Friends of Karen. This step is important so that the family does not make an unnecessary call only to find out that they are not eligible for our assistance. Our downloadable brochure provides an outline of our services and application procedure.



Contact Information

To refer a family, please call (212) 308-1378 ext.3.

After the initial referral is made by the hospital social worker, the family must contact Friends of Karen directly at (212) 308-1378 ext.3 with a Friends of Karen social worker.

An intake assessment will be conducted with the family by phone, and an application will be sent to them  after the assessment is completed. Friends of Karen cannot provide any services before a completed application is received and our social workers have assessed a family’s need.



In-Services Available Upon Request

If you would like a Friends of Karen social worker to visit your facility and outline our services to you or your staff, please call (212) 308-1378 ext.3.


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