Supportive Care & Palliative Medicine
If you are living with a life-limiting illness, our supportive care and palliative medicine services provide comfort and guidance. We use a team approach to help you enjoy the best possible quality of life. Our concern for your peace of mind means we also provide support services to the people who matter most to you.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care includes treatments and support services that help you live well despite having a serious illness. From the time of diagnosis, specialists at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) are available to you and your loved ones. Talking with our team early in your care journey helps you get services that meet your wishes — even as your medical needs change.
Palliative care is not the same as hospice care, which is end-of-life care. You may wish to receive hospice care if treatments are no longer working and you have less than six months to live. Read more about hospice care.
Supportive care and palliative medicine at AHN: Why choose us?
AHN is among few programs in western Pennsylvania with a team of dedicated palliative care specialists. We provide treatments, emotional support, and coordination services that ease the burden of a life-limiting illness. Members of our team are in regular communication, allowing us to deliver care that’s responsive to your needs.
Highlights of our program include:
- Whole person care: Our offerings include treatments to relieve pain and emotional problems such as anxiety. We also provide assistance planning the next steps of your care and support for your loved ones.
- Care coordination: We work closely with other members of your AHN care team to plan for your future needs. These efforts help you worry less because we know your preferences. We make sure the care you receive both reflects and honors them.
- Team approach: Supportive care at AHN is a team effort. We meet on a regular basis to make sure you are receiving the services and support that best meet your needs. Our team includes a:
- Palliative care physician
- Palliative care nurse practitioner
- Nurse navigator
- Social worker
- Other specialists
Conditions we care for
Our supportive care and palliative medicine services are for people with life-limiting illnesses. These illnesses are long lasting (chronic) and have no cure.
We care for people with conditions such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
- Cancer that spreads to other parts of the body (metastatic cancer)
- Congestive heart failure
- Kidney failure (end-stage renal disease)
- Liver diseases, including cirrhosis
- Lung problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Inpatient palliative medicine services
Members of our team meet with you and your loved ones while you are in the hospital. If it’s your first time meeting with us, we perform a complete assessment to learn more about your needs. We use this information to recommend services that help make your stay more comfortable and your transition home successful.
Our services include:
- Easing the side effects of treatments, which for many people includes pain medications
- Coordinating family meetings with you, loved ones, and a palliative care physician to plan the next steps of your care
- Documenting your care wishes (living will) and which people can make decisions on your behalf (power of attorney)
- Providing emotional and faith-based support to patients and their loved ones
- Giving you access to your health records to help you and your loved ones make care decisions
Outpatient palliative medicine services
Our supportive care and palliative medicine specialists are with you throughout your care journey.
Our team includes a palliative medicine nurse practitioner and social worker who stay in contact with you by phone.
Our specialists can help you:
- Keep symptoms under control by making sure you have the right medications
- Continue planning for your future needs by discussing your values and care preferences
Specialized services for people with heart failure and cancer
We work with AHN’s Cardiovascular Institute and Cancer Institute to coordinate services for people with heart failure and cancer.
Our palliative care specialists are in regular contact with your care team, which helps us anticipate your needs. These frequent touch points allow us to provide the personalized support you deserve.