News and Events: UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute

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 get in touch with us to learn more.


2015 Alan Gleitsman Student Research Fund in Palliative Care

The Alan Gleitsman Student Research Fund in Palliative Care provides financial support of $3,000 for a medical student's summer learning in the Palliative Care Program. Studnes may, for example, work with the faculty of the Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics on a research project, and/or see hospital patients wiht the Palliative Care Team in the hospital to gain a better understanding of the nature of palliative care, the therapies associate with it, and the benefits it can provide to patients and families.

For complete details and instructions download the Gleitsman Fund Announcement.

Deadline for application has been extended to March 16, 2015.

2015 Evelyn B. Amdur Social Work Fellowship in Palliative Care

The 2015 Amdur Fellowship in Palliative Care provides an intensive one month internship in palliative care social work under the guidance of one of the nation's leading academic palliative care programs. This fellowship is designed for social work students with prior hospital experience who would like to consider professional specialization in palliative care.

For complete details download the Amdur Fellowship Guidelines PDF.

Application, statement of interest, and reference letter are due by April 1, 2015. For more information contact Colleen Kosky at

Save The Date: Difficult Conversations: Handling The Difficult Patient and Family


In this session participants will be able to identify the three characteristics of a conflictual conversation, define the three questions that will help elucidate the reason for the conflict, and describe two skills that one can use to help resolve a conflict.

To RSVP email Colleen Kosky at by April 6, 2015. Limited seating is available.

Continuing Education Accreditation:
The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine designates this educational activity for a maximum of 2.0 AMA PRA Category 2 Credit(tm). Each physician should only claim the credit commensurate wiht the extent of thier participation in the activity. Other health care professionals are awared 0.2 continuing education unit (CEU) which are equal to 2.0 contact hour.

2.0 credit hours of continuing education per session attended is provided through co-sponsorship of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, A PA-approved provider of social work continuing education. There is a $5 fee per social work for accreditation. These credit hours satisfy requirements for LSW renewal. For information on social work continuing education call 412-624-3711.

The CEP is a collaborative effort of its member institutions and the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine; Aviva Katz, MD, MA, Director.

​Date: ​Thursday, April 13, 2015
​Time and Place:

​11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Iroquois Building, Suite 405
3600 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213


​Robert Arnold, MD
Medical Director, UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute
Leo H. Creip Chair of Patient Care, Department of Medicine
Director, Palliative Care Service
Director of the Institute for Doctor-Patient  Communication, University of Pittsburgh


McKeesport Team Gains a New Member

Stephanie Boehm, LCSW, has accepted the position of social worker for the McKeesport palliative care team. She comes from the VA and has extensive experience with palliative care. She will begin her role with UPMC in May 2015.

UPMC East and McKeesport Get New Medical Director

Helen Dorra, MD, MPH has accepted the position of medical director for UPMC East and McKeesport, beginning July 2015. Dr. Dorra is completing her two-year fellowship in palliative care and her master's degree in medical education through the University of Pittsburgh. She completed the internal residency program at the University of Pittsburgh in 2007 and was a primary care physician at Pittsburgh VA Health System until she joined the fellowship program in 2013. 

PSI Staffers Go Red

Megan King, Richard Weinberg, Denise Stahl, Winifred Teuteberg, and Shanika Meek-Cunningham wearing red on National Wear Red Day Susan Ely and Laura Tycon

February 6, 2015 was national wear red day to support awareness for cardiovascular disease. In the photo on the left showing off their colors from left to right are Megan King, Richard Weinberg, Denise Stahl, Winifred Teuteberg, and Shanika Meek-Cunningham.

And to the right are Susan Ely and Laura Tycon.



I'm a Palliative Care Doctor

Dr. Thurston

Dr. Andrew Thurston, a UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute physician at UPMC Mercy recently published an article titled I'm a Palliative Care Doctor. This is What I Do. The article is an insightful and superbly written look inside what palliative care is and means to Dr. Thurston on a personal level. Read the full story here.



PSI Staff Members Attain Certifications

The UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute congratulates Patricia Knight-Lamb, CRNP at UPMC Northwest on attaining her ACHPN certification and credentials from the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC, formerly the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nursing (NBCHPN ®).

PSI In The News

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.

PSI Executive Director to Present at 2015 AAHPM and HPNA Annual Assembly

Denise Stahl, MSN, ACHPN, Executive Director of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute, will be presenting at the 2015 AAHPM Annual Assembly on topic of: Putting the "I" back in "QI" - Teaching Lifelong Skills in Clinician-Directed Quality Improvement.

UPMC East Educates Hospital Staff on Palliative Care

Palliative and Supportive Institute workers at UPMC East

The Palliative and Supportive Care Team at UPMC East has been spending the month of November spreading the word about palliative care and educating physicians, administrators, maintenance staff, security and others about the importance of palliative care and how they can learn more about what the team has to offer.

The team has visited various sites in the hospital and provided information sessions and handed out packets of information to those in attendance.

"Splendid" and "Palliative" speech bubbles.
Palliative care means relief from pain and stress. 

What does Palliative care mean to you?

The Palliative and Supportive Team at UPMC St. Margaret posted the question "What does palliative care mean to you" in the first floor of the hospital and garnered some great responses from participants.

"This has spurred some great discussion amongst our staff and I am really proud of what the team has come up with," said Palliative Care Program Manager, Megan King.

Some of the responses included:

  • "Palliative care means relief from pain and stress"
  • "I'm not sure what I am facing – I need to talk"
  • "Management of a patient’s symptoms and special needs to prevent complications and promote a better sense of well-being."
  • "Palliative care is your best friend if you have a chronic illness. A best friend to help you, to treat you, to support you, to encourage you, and to nurture you. A best friend that everyone should have.

Robert M. Arnold, MD, Discusses Palliative Care and End of Life Issues on WESA Radio

On November 6, 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.

John Barnett, CRNP, Receives 2014 Cameo of Caring Award

The UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute congratulates John Barnett, CRNP, for his 2014 Cameo of Caring Award from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. John currently works at UPMC Hamot, in Erie, as part of the onsite palliative care team.

Sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, Cameos of Caring recognizes exceptional nurses who are committed to quality patient care. This prestigious awards program also serves to increase public awareness about the nursing profession and strives to encourage a whole new generation of nurses to meet the escalating demand for excellence in health care.

Past Cameo of Caring recipients working in palliative care at UPMC or in the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute include: Denise Stahl (2002); Carol May (2005); Connie Coble Roe (2008).

PSI Nurse Practitioner at UPMC Northwest Develops Onsite Therapy Dog Program for Patients

Patricia Lamb-Knight, MSN, CRNP, FNP-BC and minature schnauzer, Bella.

Patricia Lamb-Knight, MSN, CRNP, FNP-BC is a palliative care nurse practitioner at UPMC Northwest. Recently, Patricia got the idea to develop an onsite therapy dog program at UPMC Northwest for patients and families, with her minature schnauzer, Bella, who is a registered therapy dog through Therapy Dogs, Incorporated. Patricia and Bella have been volunteering their time for a number of years at UPMC Norhwest and local nursing homes and hospice organizations.

Bella will join Patricia and the rest of the UPMC Northwest palliative care team including Kimberly Slater-Heil and Susan Stewart as they work  to take care of seriously ill patients and their families at UPMC Northwest.

"The response here, in the hospital, by patients and staff has been warm and welcoming. We travel and act as a team. It's our goal to try and bring as much comfort and joy to our patients as we possibly can during their illness." says Patricia.

UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute Takes Part in Annual NOCC Walk

Team PSI Logo

In September 2014, the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute (PSI) once again was a sponsor of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition's annual Walk to Break the Silence. Held in North Park, the annual walk/run seeks to draw attention to, and raise funds in support of Ovarian Cancer research. PSI was the sponsor of the Memory Tent, a place where survivors and loved ones of women who have succumbed to the disease can find support, share stories, and leave remembrances. In addition to being an event sponsor, the Institute, along with partner Family Hospice and Palliative Care formed a walk team to raise funds for the cause.


Jennifer Pruskowski, PharmD, BCPS, CGP

Jennifer Pruskowski, PharmD, BCPS, CGP Joins UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute

The UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute welcome its newest team member, Jennifer Pruskowski, PharmD, BCPS, CGP. Dr. Pruskowski is the Palliative Care Clinical Pharmacy Specialist and also Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

Dr. Pruskowski earned her PharmD degree from Wilkes University in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. She is a board certified pharmacotherapy specialist and certified geriatric pharmacist. Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Pruskowski completed a Pharmacy Practice and Geriatric Pharmacy Residency at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina, and an Interprofessional Palliative Care Fellowship at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx, New York.

Dr. Pruskowski’ s main areas of interest and research include: education of effective and safe use of medication for palliative care patients, the management of delirium at the end of life and refractory pain, and the role of pharmacists in the improvement of health-related functions and quality of life for palliative care patients. As part of her role within the Institute, Dr. Pruskowski will be working to develop institute-wide, evidence-based pain and symptom management treatment algorithms.

Lisa Podgurski, MD

Lisa Podgurski, MD, named new Medical Director of Magee-Womens Hospital Palliative Care Services

Lisa Podgurski, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics at UPMC was recently named the new Medical Director of Palliative Care Services at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Dr. Podgurski takes over the role from Winifred G. Teuteberg, MD, who has moved into a new position with the Institute as Medical Director of Information Technology, in addition to her other roles as Medical Director of Cardiopulmonary Pulmonary Palliative Care and spearheading the development of new programs and services that support the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute and Comprehensive Lung Center in the provision of palliative and supportive care for patients with serious heart and lung disease. Dr. Teuteberg, through her dedication and exemplary clinical work, was key to growing the palliative and supportive care services at Magee. The Institute thanks Dr. Teuteberg for her work at Magee, and her continuing efforts within the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute.

Dr. Podgurski completed her medical degree at Harvard Medical School and residency in internal medicine at UPMC Presbyterian, along with a Hospice and Palliative Care Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She is board certified in internal medicine.

Dr. Podgurski’s clinical areas of interest include symptom management and addressing goals of care for patients with life-threatening illness in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

In addition to her medical training, Dr. Podgurski also holds an MS degree in Medical Education from the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Clinical Research Education. Her current academic interests include teaching communication skills and reflection in medicine.

In her new role, Dr. Podgurski oversees all Palliative Care Services at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. She sees outpatients at the Magee-Womens Hospital Supportive and Palliative Care Clinic and conducts inpatient consults at Magee, as well as at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Shadyside.

Kathryn M. Lanz, DNP, ACHPN of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute, an Inaugural Fellow in the Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program, successfully completed the one year program in May 2014.

Program components included three leadership retreats as well as distance-based learning activities and a transformative health leadership project. The Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program is a partnership between Duke University School of Medicine, Duke University School of Nursing and Johnson & Johnson. This program provided leadership development for advanced practice nurses to enable them to effectively address the health needs of their communities – especially that of underserved populations. Program Fellows are expected to be change agents within their practice settings and the evolving health care environment.

"As clinical leaders, we are often never given the tools to effectively lead and manage people and programs.Through Duke's rich leadership and management program content, I was challenged to creatively think of innovative strategies for our evolving health care environment. By working with peers, expert coaches, and faculty from accross the country over the last year, I have new insight regarding my approaches to problem solving and my role in the leadership process." says Dr. Lanz.

Michale Bzdak, Kathryn Lanz, and Anh Tran.

From left to right:  Michael Bzdak, Executive Director of Corporate Contributions, Johnson & Johnson; Kathryn M. Lanz, Program Fellow; and Anh N. Tran, Director of Duke–Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program, Duke School of Medicine.

Kathryn Lanz, DNP, ACHPN, UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute Director of Geriatric Services receives 2014 Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation (HPNF) PDIA Nursing Leadership Award.

On March 13 at the annual assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), Dr. Kathryn Lanz received the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation (HPNF) Project on Death in America (PDIA) Nursing Leadership Award. Dr. Lanz received the award for her work and continuing contributions to the field of palliative and hospice nursing, for helping to improve the care for patients and their families who are dealing with serious illness, and for advancing the mission of the Project on Death in America (PDIA).

Dr. Lanz currently serves as the Director of Geriatric Services for the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute where she oversees gero-palliative care services at UPMC long-term care and skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities. Dr. Lanz also is the co-lead investigator on the RAVEN project, a $19 million Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) funded innovation grant to reduce avoidable readmissions to the hospital by nursing home residents in western Pennsylvania. In addition, Dr. Lanz was the 2013 recipient of the National Hospice and Palliative Advance Practice Nurse of the year award from the National Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.

“The award was an affirmation of our hard work to improve access and continuity of care for frail older adults living with serious illness. I am honored to be recognized by an organization of peers who understand the complexity surrounding culture change initiatives for this vulnerable population.” says Dr. Lanz.

For more information about the award or to read the HPNF press release, visit the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation website.

UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute Medical director Robert Arnold, MD, honored by American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Robert Arnold, MD, medical director of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute was recently named one of the top 30 visionaries in hospice and palliative medicine by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM).

Among other appointments, Dr. Arnold currently serves as the medical director of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute, whose mission is to ensure high quality, coordinated care for patients with serious illnesses, increase palliative care capacity and expertise across the UPMC continuum of care, and provide access to consistent education, training, and technical assistance for health care professionals who care for people with serious illness.

“I am honored to have had an impact on improving the care of seriously ill patients. Working with AAHPM and other palliative care clinicians has been deeply meaningful to my career.” said Dr. Arnold.

Dr. Arnold, and all the other visionaries, will be recognized during the AAHPM & HPNA Annual Assembly in San Diego in March 2014.

For more information and the full list of visionaries, visit the AAHPM website.

UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute Receives Fine Award for Teamwork Excellence

The UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute was recently awarded one of the 2013 Fine Awards for Teamwork Excellence for efforts related to enhancing quality care. The Institute was honored with a silver award for its application on “Implementing Palliative Care across the Continuum.”

The application recognized efforts across the clinical spectrum of services (in hospitals and the community), as well as the development of infrastructure to support enhanced communication of care goals and choices across the continuum, to ensure internal consistency in measuring outcomes, and for measuring those outcomes (e.g., pain and symptom management scores, patient and family satisfaction).

“The award is a wonderful way to recognize the amazing inter-disciplinary work that clinicians across UPMC have done to improve the care of seriously ill patients at all locations - hospitals, homes, ambulatory care, and long-term care facilities. It shows how far we have come. And yet, we have a long way to go until good, integrated, care is the norm for seriously ill patients in western Pennsylvania. We hope to work with all the other programs recognized at the Fine Awards to make that a reality”, said Robert Arnold, MD, medical director of the UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute.

Learn more at Inside Life Changing Medicine.

UPMC Palliative and Supportive Institute with Fine Award for Team Excellence 

L-R: Milton Fine; Karen Fineberg; Robert Arnold; Denise Stahl; Richard Weinberg; Sharon Hudak; Winifred Teuteberg; Kathryn Lanz; Phillip Rogers; Sheila Fine

About the Award: The Fine Foundation of Pittsburgh and the leadership of its founders, Milton and Sheila Fine have generously supported an annual health care award for team excellence. The Jewish Healthcare Foundation proudly partners with the Fines to make this award a reality. Each year, many applications are received, and the most outstanding are vetted by a team of national experts in health care quality improvement.

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