Support Services

Speech therapy

As part of the swallowing center, speech therapy is provided both pre- and post-operatively to those experiencing difficulty.

Dietary counseling and nutrition

We have an on-site registered dietician to help coordinate nutritional plans, counsel patients pre- and post-operatively, provide recommendations for weight management, and ensure nutritional needs are being met.

Voice, swallowing and nutrition center

The Voice, Swallowing and Nutrition Center (VSN) of AHN’s Esophageal Institute provide diagnostic evaluation, assessment, and treatment for diseases of the pharynx, larynx, esophagus and stomach. The VSN is run in conjunction and collaboration with the Esophageal clinic at West Penn Hospital. Through active bilateral communication among providers, new patients are often seen during the same day by both the VSN and ELI clinics. This multidisciplinary approach enables our team to provide the best, most comprehensive care for our patients.

The VSN provides a spectrum of treatment, including support at all phases of surgery, but also for conditions not requiring a surgical intervention. This could include Otolaryngology evaluations, technique trainings, therapeutic exercise, and behavioral modifications to lessen the effects of many issues patients may experience. These include but are not limited to:

  • Vocal dysfunction
  • Aphasia
  • Linguistic deficits
  • Diet modification
  • Behavioral health counseling
  • Complementary medicine
  • Food allergy counseling and education
  • Esophageal motility disorders
  • Evaluation of GI symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, constipation/diarrhea

Appointments can be booked directly or in follow-up to other treatment. For more information, go to the Voice, Swallowing and Nutrition Center.

Behavioral health

For some individuals, stress can contribute to the onset or course of their gastrointestinal illness. Additionally, living with chronic GI symptoms can be challenging, and impact work, relationships and overall quality of life. Research has shown that brief psychological interventions significantly improve quality of life and functioning for individuals with gastrointestinal diagnoses. Dr. Kimberly Fleming is a clinical health psychologist who specializes in providing comprehensive treatment to patients with chronic medical conditions, including gastrointestinal problems. Her collaborative approach tailors individual treatment plans to decrease frequency and intensity of depression and anxiety symptoms, improve quality of life, decrease distress from medical symptoms, effectively manage stress, and improve coping skills. 

Dr. Fleming schedules appointments with ELI patients through the Voice, Swallowing, and Nutrition Center. Learn more about the To learn more about the Voice, Swallowing and Nutrition Center.

Cancer Support

The Esophageal Institute works in concert with the AHN Cancer Institute to focus on the whole patient. When it comes to diagnosing cancer, accuracy and speed are vital. But a diagnosis and treatment plan is incomplete without considering the other health and wellness needs of a patient who is coping with a new diagnosis.

Our clinic offers a number of options to help support the family. In commitment to our multidisciplinary approach, we will quickly provide referrals to Dr. Fleming, our behavioral health specialist, as well as to Supportive Care services. These providers specialize in helping patients and families understand the choices they may be facing ahead, as well as connecting patients to community support systems and assisting with navigation through the healthcare system as they progress in their treatments.

In addition, the Esophageal clinic offers several patient-led support opportunities. We recommend the systems and online resources provided by the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN), a non-profit organization led by survivors and families for others with similar stories. Their website has helpful information and strategies to manage patients’ health and wellness. It also offers access to patient forums where patients can openly discuss their experiences and concerns.

The Esophageal clinic also recently started an in-person support group, which meets at West Penn Hospital approximately every two months. For more information, go to the AHN calendar of events or call our office to find out about participation.

We also recommend visiting the Cancer Caring Center in Bloomfield, an organization dedicated to providing community support to patients and families.

Contact us

Call (412) 359-GERD (412) 359-4373 in Pittsburgh or (844) 412-GERD (844) 412-4373 in Erie for more information or to book a consultation.