The UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute participates in many community, educational, and professional events, throughout the Pittsburgh area and around the country. We invite you to contact us to learn more.
Like so many, Karl Bezak, MD and Taylor Lincoln, MD want to do everything they can to alleviate the suffering of patients, families, and colleagues impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both are among a group of ten UPMC and University of Pittsburgh palliative care physicians who readily offered their services when Robert Arnold, MD, FAAHPM, medical director for the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute (PSI), reached out to solicit help from among his colleagues on behalf of the Mt. Sinai Health System.
With more than 16,000 deaths to date, the people of New York City have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. As Dr. Bezak expressed, “While we were bracing for the storm here in Pittsburgh, New York City was in it.” Dr. Lincoln noted that administrative leadership from both Mt. Sinai and UPMC worked with incredible agility to accelerate physician credentialing and make this collaboration possible.
The clinical support takes two forms, both virtual. Our palliative care physicians are participating in goals of care conversations with patients, families, and colleagues in the inpatient setting. Additionally, Mt. Sinai is operating “PATCH-24,” a telephone hotline fielding inquiries related to palliative care and COVID-19. Physicians can help identify a primary decision-maker to speak on the patient’s behalf should he or she become unable to do so; this may involve patients who are symptomatic and still awaiting diagnosis.
Clearly, the practice of medicine is being transformed by COVID-19. Both Dr. Bezak and Dr. Lincoln see its current and future impact as it pertains to palliative care. “Without enough palliative care specialists to meet the demand, telemedicine can help increase patient and family access,” says Dr. Lincoln. Dr. Bezak agrees that virtual interventions can bring needed services to existing “palliative care deserts.” Additionally, he anticipates that telemedicine will be incorporated across core competencies for physicians-in-training.
View this video produced by local physicians as a gesture of support for their colleagues.
Robert Arnold, MD, FAAHPM contributed to this piece from the Annals of Internal Medicine. He and his VitalTalk co-authors contend that “it is possible to get better at facing inequality, suffering, and dying, regardless of the circumstances.”
MusiCare, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine student volunteer initiative, has gone virtual to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With guidance from faculty advisor Jane Schell, MD FNKF, medical students early on in their training and faculty who are also musicians and vocalists have created a YouTube channel, MusiCare Connections, featuring recorded performances intended to provide connection and comfort to patients.
Since 2014, MusiCare volunteers have been performing in UPMC hospital settings including UPMC Children’s Hospital and the dialysis unit at UPMC Presbyterian, gathering monthly to lend a human touch to patients’ clinical experiences.
Dr. Rachel Rodenbach, a fellow in the Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics, was recognized by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine for her top scoring Quality Improvement research and poster submission. Dr. Rodenbach completed this project under the mentorship of Dr. Julie Childers.
Dr. Rachel Rodenbach
Julie Wilson Childers, MD, MS, FAAHPM, is the 2020 recipient of the Mid-Career Physician Award, one of only five physicians to be honored with a Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Award for exemplary service to patients near the end of life. Dr. Childers is medical director of the palliative care service at UPMC Presbyterian and is senior associate with VitalTalk. Her writing and teaching work has focused on goals-of-care discussions and managing addiction among patients who are nearing the end of life.
Dr. Julie Childers
Awarded annually, this fellowship affords an opportunity for mentoring in the field of clinical social work for candidates with previous clinical experience who wish to specialize in palliative care. This is a one-month clinical rotation at UPMC Presbyterian and Family Hospice, part of UPMC. Apply here (PDF). The deadline for applications is April 15, 2020.
The UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute received a $250,000 award to address cultural disparities in providers trained and skilled in palliative care. Learn more.
Avery Meltzer, medical student at the University of Pittsburgh, has been presented the 2019 Gleitsman Award, which provides $3,000 towards summer learning in the Palliative Care Program. Avery is being mentored by Dr. Janel Hanmer in a research project that evaluates whether patients enrolled in the Enhanced Care Program (ECP), a chronic care management program serving complex patients, experience a change in Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) as a result of their participation in the program.
This project is part of a larger body of research being conducted at UPMC to establish a set of generic HRQoL metrics that can be used comparatively to assess patient outcomes across different health settings.
Avery plans to become a primary care physician and aspires to find solutions for underserved families to address the chronic illnesses that disproportionately affect them.
Dr. Robert M. Arnold mentors physicians, pharmacists, social workers and medical ethicists as part of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation's Death and Dying Fellowship, featured in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Co-sponsored by UPMC's Family Hospice and Palliative Care and the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute, this year’s symposium brought together more than 150 physicians, physician assistants, social workers, and nurses to discuss strategies and resources to improve the patient experience for the seriously ill, as well as for their families.
Topics included expanded access, end stage renal disease care, and integrative oncology advancements. Dr. Karen Hacker, medical director for the Allegheny County Health Department, spoke to health care disparities.
Planning is underway for a fall symposium in Altoona.
Emily Svitek, University of Pittsburgh master’s in social work candidate, is the recipient of the 2019 Amdur Fellowship in Palliative Care. Awarded annually, this fellowship affords an opportunity for mentoring in field of clinical social work, specific to patients living with serious, traumatic, and/or chronic illness.
Emily is being mentored by Natalie A. Magoc, LSW, Collaborative Care Management at UPMC Presbyterian. Natalie was herself an Amdur Fellow and hopes to impart skills in how to best support patients and their families, including having difficult conversations about end of life.
Dio Kavalieratos, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, Palliative Care and Medical Ethics, University of Pittsburgh, and director of Implementation Research for the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute, has been awarded the 2019 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) Early Career Investigator Award. This award recognizes Dr. Kavalieratos as a developing research leader, who shows promise in making contributions to the development of a scientific foundation for practice and research, and who conducts and facilitates research by others that advances the field of hospice and palliative medicine.
Dr. Kavalieratos is the first PhD to ever win this award. Recently, he has completed research and policy work integrating specialty palliative care into the care of patients with cystic fibrosis and conducted a trial with primary palliative care intervention for patients with advanced heart failure.
The Palliative and Supportive Institute served as a sponsor for the Memory Tent at the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Walk. More than 130 families visited the tent for information on palliative care and bereavement resources. Staff from PSI collaborated with peers from Family Hospice and Palliative Care in providing support to individuals, families and caregivers.
The Palliative and Supportive Institute has been named a winner of the 10th anniversary Fine Award for commitment to excellence in safety, quality, efficiency, and innovation.
In this anniversary year, institutions previously recognized were considered for an additional award based on sustained and expanding growth of the program to other departments within their organization.
Jennifer Pruskowski, PharmD, pharmacist, Palliative and Supportive Institute, has been selected as the 2018 ACCP New Clinical Practitioner Award winner. This award recognizes a person who, after less than six years since completion of training has made outstanding contributions to the health of patients and to the practice of clinical pharmacology.
The ASP Eric G. Neilson, MD, Distinguished Professor Award is presented annually to a physician who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and support of specialty internal medicine. This year's recipient is Dr. Robert M. Arnold, Medical Director of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute. Dr. Arnold received the award at a March 2018 reception in San Antonio, Texas.
The University of Oklahoma College of Medicine selected Dr. Robert M. Arnold, Medical Director of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute, as recipient of the Patricia Price Browne Prize in Biomedical Ethics. This honor recognizes Dr. Arnold for his expertise in palliative care and doctor-patient communication. Learn more about the Biomedical Ethics Prize.
A group of medical students, lead by Sae Jang, volunteered to play music for patients at UPMC Presbyterian. Palliative care physician Dr. Jane Schell helps the students connect with the right patients. Read the full article and watch a video from KDKA.
Dr. Jane O. Schell, palliative care physician at UPMC Presbyterian and Shadyside hospitals, co-authored an article addressing communication and cultural competence as it relates to shard decision-making. It was published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Read the article.
Jennifer Pruskowski, PharmD with UPMC's Palliative and Supportive Institute and the University of Pittsburgh, participated in the 2016 Sino American Forum of Clinical Pharmacy in Shanghai, China. Jennifer presented on the topic of "Palliative Clinical Pharmacy Care in the United States."
Dr. Andrew Thurston, a UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute physician at UPMC Mercy, recently had an opinion piece published in the Journal of American Medical Association. Read the reflection here.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently featured an in-depth story on the nature and benefits of palliative care for seriously ill patients. Read the story and watch the accompanying video interview with Robert Arnold, MD, Medical Director of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute.
Dr. Robert M. Arnold, Medical Director of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute discussed palliative care, end-of-life issues, and how better communication can help patients, families, and their caregivers that are facing a serious illness or end-of-life concerns. Listen to the 30 minute discussion.