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  • Federated Guardians

The Need For Guardians in Pittsburgh

The need for responsible, compassionate guardians in the Greater Pittsburgh region has never been so great.

In 2021, roughly 600+ individuals in Allegheny and surrounding counties were deemed incapacitated by the courts. Half of those require a professional guardian as family is not able or fit to serve.

But the number of responsible guardians for these individuals is simply too few to even come close to meeting this need.

We aim to relieve this shortage and provide the means to a higher quality of life for every person we care for. We also prioritize comfort and dignity even in situations where we cannot control the outcome.

Here’s what a 40-year geriatrician with UPMC had to say about the care offered by one of our guardians, Dr. Sarah Stockey, in a palliative situation.

“This case was quite complex and a multitude of health professionals had been working for months for her to get our patient the care she wanted and needed – major vascular surgery. She was finally all set for the surgery after multiple delays when it was again cancelled due to the determination that guardianship was needed. Dr. Stockey became guardian and immediately ensured that the patient-desired and physician-recommended surgery was completed. Unfortunately due to elements outside of our control, she developed significant complications and was being kept alive despite a poor prognosis and little chance of recovery.

Dr. Stockey checked on the patient’s status and spoke with the involved physicians on a regular basis and only after her strongly advocating for a palliative care consult was one received and the futility of continued care noted. It was then, again only through the intercession of Dr. Stockey, that all parties including the alienated family got together, and decided on the necessary decision to make the patient comfort measures only. Family got to spend time and say their good-byes and the patient passed comfortably. Without her intervention and persistence this patient may still be alive suffering needlessly without any hope of recovery.

Unfortunately the outcome isn’t what was expected at the outset, which was out of our control. But Dr. Sarah Stockey, in her role as court-appointed guardian, got the patient the needed surgery and when difficult decisions needed to be made, Dr. Stockey, with her knowledge and insight, took action and got the required decisions made when health care professionals were not addressing them.

In my 40+ years of practice I have never been involved in a more difficult case. Dr. Stockey in her professional role as guardian provided much needed care for an incompetent individual in desperate need for care and made appropriate and needed difficult decisions in a life-threatening situation. I would recommend her without reservation for any guardianship needs of my patients as well as anyone I know. I cannot make any stronger attestation to her competence as a guardian.”

This is just one example of the many ways we seek to better the lives of those in our community, even in difficult palliative care scenarios. We are regularly placed into extremely challenging, often heartbreaking scenarios where a vulnerable individual is in dire need of a responsible caretaker. But we will not cease to fight for dignity, comfort, and reconciliation for each and every one of our clients.

To support us in our mission in the coming year, please see our Facebook page where you may donate toward our cause.

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