Dr. Vincent Balestrino is celebrating 35 years of making contributions to the field of geriatrics, an area of interest during his residency, but that he entered by happenstance.
In the late 1980s, after training in family medicine and starting his private practice, UPMC St. Margaret approached him about being a medical director for Seneca Place, a nursing home they were building. He was a candidate of choice because his practice was within walking distance from the facility. Since accepting the offer in 1989, he has continued to administer care and train future professionals in geriatrics.
Balestrino serves as director of geriatric services and associate director of family medicine at UPMC St. Margaret, and senior medical director for Presbyterian SeniorCare. Each week, his time is divided between UPMC St. Margaret hospital, his family medicine practice in Penn Hills, and Presbyterian SeniorCare. Because of his passion for global health and underserved populations, Balestrino regularly volunteers with Shoulder to Shoulder Pittsburgh, which offers medical services at a rural clinic in Honduras.
When asked how he has successfully executed the many roles he serves on the clinical side and in the community, Balestrino credited his collaborative colleagues and staff at UPMC St. Margaret, a supportive and loving wife, and a strong faith.
Balestrino has made significant contributions to the growth of geriatrics education in the Pittsburgh region and has inspired numerous students to be passionate about the specialty. As director of geriatric services at UPMC St. Margaret, he has expanded its service line to include a Geriatric Care Center in Oakmont. His experience and leadership also extends to long-term care and palliative care. Two particular areas of interest in which he has lectured and published are end-of-life care and wound care. He was a pioneer in establishing palliative care services at UPMC St. Margaret, and has held leadership roles at Gateway Hospice and Family Hospice and Palliative Care.
For his many years of dedication to the profession, the Pennsylvania Geriatrics Society – Western Division presented Balestrino with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award on April 6 at a dinner symposium. The award honors a physician who has made significant contributions to the education and training of students in geriatrics education, with the utmost dedication, commitment and teaching excellence spanning their professional career.
“It was an honor to be recognized by members of an organization who are true icons in the field of geriatrics,” said Balestrino. “This prestigious award came as a surprise and I’m humbled to have been nominated and selected.”
Throughout his career, Balestrino has witnessed geriatrics evolve and believes the industry is continuing to implement changes that are in the best interest of patients.
“Collaborative partnerships between payers, hospital systems and long-term care facilities are forming to take a closer look at areas where there is room to cut costs while pushing the quality envelope,” he said. “We are seeing quality of care improve and maximizing economies of scale to keep patients in safer environments and ideally return home as soon as possible.”
Balestrino’s lifelong commitment to geriatric medicine and education is evident at all levels, and his commitment to mentoring young geriatricians is second to none, making him an inspiration and respected leader within the field of geriatric medicine and education.
“I’ve had a rewarding career, but nothing compares to the relationships I’ve built with patients — some who I’ve administered care to for over 30 years,” Balestrino said. “When a patient comes to you, they are suffering in one way or another, and your goal is to reduce their pain. This humanistic side of clinical care has driven me for so long and will carry me through the home stretch of my career.”