Allegheny Health Network Opens Region's First Oncology After-Hours Clinic

Allegheny Health Network (AHN) has opened western Pennsylvania's first after-hours clinic for cancer patients to address their unique needs outside an emergency department.

With the opening of the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute Extended Hours Oncology Clinic, AHN is at the forefront of an emerging national trend of expanded, after-hours care for cancer patients, many of whom will visit an emergency room at some point during their treatment or recovery. These patients need timely care in the appropriate clinical setting in order to maintain their wellness and quality of life, and optimize their symptom management.

Located inside West Penn Hospital's Mellon Pavilion Medical Oncology Clinic, the clinic is open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and staffed by a certified registered nurse practitioner, a registered nurse and a medical assistant, all trained in oncology-specific protocols and working under the direction of an oncologist.

"The side effects of treatment can pose considerable difficulty for cancer patients. In 2014, Western Pennsylvania emergency rooms logged nearly 3,000 visits from cancer patients," said David Parda, MD, Chair, AHN Cancer Institute. "With the opening of the Extended Hours Oncology Clinic, AHN is filling a gap in the continuum of care for one of our most vulnerable populations."

Care for patients doesn't end with a visit to the extended hours clinic. Clinic caregivers will connect patients with services that will ensure a smooth transition of care from clinic to home and community, services such as AHN's Healthcare@Home and Supportive Medicine Service.

A 48-hour post-discharge follow-up call from a nurse navigator to all patients will ensure that needed services have begun and help facilitate any additional patient needs.

"The extended hours clinic for oncology patients is expected to optimize clinical outcomes, reduce hospital admissions and readmissions, expand access to at-home, supportive and palliative care, and enhance the patient experience while reducing the cost of care," Dr. Parda said. "It is a positive step forward for healthcare in western Pennsylvania, and most importantly, for our patients."

The AHN Cancer Institute Extended Hours Oncology Clinic can be accessed via the Mellon Pavilion entrance at 4815 Liberty Ave. or the parking garage at the corner of Liberty Avenue and South Millvale Street. A staff member will escort patients to the clinic.

Alex Brennsteiner, Clinical Program Manager, Highmark Home and Community Services; Crystal Costanza Ross, Director of Program Development, AHN Cancer Institute; and Marjie Leslie, Director of Clinical Services for Allegheny Clinic Medical Oncology played leading roles in the planning and development of the oncology after-hours clinic.

The clinic is open only to patients being treated for cancer at Allegheny Health Network. Appointments are required and can be made only through designated oncologists. For more information, contact Eileen Milakovic​ at 412-770-3070.

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