Supportive care name just part of the 20-year evolution of palliative care at WVU Medicine

Monday, August 5, 2019

The nature of palliative care at WVU Medicine has evolved over the years, along with the name of the team that provides it.

Now known as supportive care, a team of providers celebrates its 20th anniversary as a vital part of WVU Medicine.

When it began in 1999, less than 25 percent of U.S. hospitals had a palliative care team; most physicians and nurses had not received education in the field or knew what palliative care consultation teams did. In 2000, its first full year of operation, the team averaged one or two consults a week and finished the year with 100. In 2018 an expanded team performed 1,086 consults.

The type of care evolved as well. Initially, many of the consults were for assistance with pain and symptom management. As WVU Medicine physicians learned from the supportive care team and became more comfortable with symptom management, the main reason for supportive care consultation changed to establishing goals of care conversations for medically and surgically complex patients. Now, 75 percent of the supportive care team’s consults are goals of care conversations. It has expanded its services to the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center and its outpatient clinics and continues its medical direction of the inpatient hospice service at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Going into its third decade, the supportive care team is led by Osvaldo Navia, MD, who is supported by three physicians (Janna Baker Rogers, MD, Charles Mpumombe, MD, and Alvin Moss, MD); four nurse practitioners (Barb Mulich, Abby Potesta, Lori Constantine, and Jennifer Vanin); a social worker (Juleen Zimmer); a triage nurse (Ronda Wagner); and an administrator (Jan Manilla).