Marta Kolthoff, MD: Perinatal Palliative Care


The goal of the Olivia's Angels is to create a culture of perinatal loss care throughout the system.

Palliative care is crucial for parents after losing a child during the birthing process or learning their child may have a life-long condition.

However, not many hospitals and healthcare facilities have this type of program available.

One such place that does is Allegheny Health Network with Olivia’s Angels Perinatal Palliative Care Program.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Marta Kolthoff, MA, MD, Director of Olivia’s Angels, said the program was inspired by a lack of available care options for parents in the situation where they expect the baby’s life to brief early in her career.

“It was really a crisis of confidence that led me to research and discover the field of perinatal palliative care,” Kolthoff said. “Studies have shown if parents are offered a structured, compassionate, comprehensive program for themselves and their babies, a large percentage chose not to terminate the pregnancy and chose pregnancy continuation.”

The program has several components to it, including honoring cultural and religious traditions, presenting the patients with keepsakes such as prenatal images after each appointment, and grief counselors and bereavement specialists.

Kolthoff described the goal of the program as attempting to create a culture of perinatal loss care throughout the system.

The program is named after Susan and Dan Bevevino’s daughter Olivia, who died just a few short hours following birth.

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