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Serving the Susquehanna Region

UPMC Cole Recognized for Innovative Post-Acute and End-of-Life Care


The National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center) and the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) recently recognized UPMC Cole for their innovative approach to post-acute care and palliative services in the region with its Critical Access Hospital award. The nomination for the award was made by Lannette Fetzer, Quality Improvement Coordinator, from the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH). The award will be presented to UPMC Cole on November 4 in a virtual ceremony.

Located in one of the most remote regions of Pennsylvania, UPMC Cole provides necessary and lifesaving services focused on the needs of the communities it serves. A comprehensive community needs assessment identified a population of high risk, vulnerable patients who experienced a lack of support for comprehensive palliative services. Existing hospital services did not adequately meet and support the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of those suffering from a serious or life-threatening illness. Advanced illnesses were limited to a home-based hospice program or placement in a skilled nursing facility. In response, UPMC Cole developed a robust and innovative palliative care service transforming care.

“An interdisciplinary team, passionate about palliative and end of life care, met routinely to identify service gaps and community needs and formulated concise goals utilizing best practices for end-of-life care,” said Timothy Brown, president, vice president of operations, UPMC Cole Medical Group. “Kristin Kratzer and Andrea Heller, MD, were appointed to lead this program to implement palliative services across the continuum of care. The team provided community education to ensure that palliative care services did not replace primary care, but rather supported and complemented established and trusted services.”

The Critical Access Hospital Recognition was established by The Center and the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) to recognize the excellent work in critical access hospitals (CAHs) and other rural safety net providers throughout the country. The recognition shares excellence and innovation and honors the achievements.

“The achievement in post-acute care initiatives by CAHs is impressive,” stated Sally Buck, chief executive officer at The Center. “It reflects the innovation required to address unique population health needs in rural communities. Providing services locally benefits the patient, the overall community, and enhances CAH performance outcomes.”

“UPMC Cole is dedicated to providing a comprehensive system of high-quality health care to include premier post-acute and palliative care services for their patients,” said Jennifer Edwards, Rural Health Systems Manager and Deputy Director from the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health. “This program is a shining example of innovation, and commitment to the transition to value that the CAHs in Pennsylvania are pursuing every day.”

Learn more about Palliative Care at UPMC Cole.