UPMC to close Somerset palliative care facility; care transferred to home, to hospital

July 2 – SOMERSET, Pa. – Hospice care inside Somerset’s In Touch Hospice will end this summer, due to changing industry trends, UPMC officials said .

With more patients able to receive end-of-life care at home, demand for the 10-bed unit at the North Center Avenue location has declined in recent years, a UPMC spokesperson told The Tribune-Democrat in a statement.

“With many more patients receiving home care, we will continue to improve our services to meet this need,” officials at the Pittsburgh-based health care provider wrote.

This does not mean that the hospital will no longer provide palliative care.

“Palliative care services will continue at home and inpatient care will be in hospital,” UPMC spokeswoman Sarah Deist said in a statement.

The building itself will remain in operation – although plans for the 10-unit hospice wing remain undecided, she said.

“The In Touch Hospice House building will be used for hospice and home health administrative offices. Palliative care services will continue in the home and inpatient care will be in the hospital. We are looking at other opportunities to use space in the building for services that will continue to benefit the community,” the statement read.

In Touch Hospice House got its start in 2009 with a donation from the Wheeler family after the death of its patriarch, Harold W. Wheeler, following a four-year battle with cancer.

The location was designed as a home for people with acute needs – many of whom were in end-of-life scenarios, allowing their families to spend time with them in a setting that included a kitchen, living room and veranda .

UPMC acquired Somerset Hospital in 2019 – and part of the deal eventually included consolidating home health and palliative care agencies into their network, officials said.

Deist said the 10-bed section of the building should be closed by August 1.

UPMC is working with employees during this transition “to ensure they are placed in the best new positions to succeed,” the statement added.

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