At the core of the Cancer Center is a dedicated team of clinicians comprised of nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers, and case managers who provide essential inpatient and outpatient care. Additional support services are provided as needed by physical, occupational, speech, and hearing specialists, as well as enterostomal therapists.
This complex support care is orchestrated by the oncology nurse acting as the primary nurse in either the outpatient or inpatient setting. All of these highly trained nursing professionals have expertise in oncology and are chemotherapy certified. Most are certified oncology nurses, which permits them to add the title of OCN after their names. Each patient has a primary nurse, who will follow the patient and be the continuous link to the Cancer Center, the physicians, and the services of the institution.
The outpatient nursing team is headed by the Cancer Center nurse manager, who supervises the nurses and nursing assistants who provide cancer care in the ambulatory setting.
Inpatient nurses under the direction of the inpatient nurse manager are directly responsible for the acute care of patients on the 8-1 Inpatient Oncology Unit. The inpatient nursing team consists of nurses, nursing assistants, and unit secretaries, with educational and clinical support from the clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
The nurse in Radiation Oncology works in close collaboration with the entire team to provide care management for patients receiving radiation therapy.
Several weekly conferences are held to transfer the care of patients seamlessly between the inpatient and outpatient departments. Care paths and treatment guidelines have been established that provide consistency in care planning, and assure adherence to the same treatment philosophy for in- and outpatients.
The team of pharmacists assigned to the Cancer Center has specialized training in cancer drugs, which is crucial for the safe and proper administration of chemotherapeutic agents. The specialized drugs are either prepared in the Cancer Center, which has its own dedicated pharmacy, or in a special oncology subsection of the main hospital pharmacy where the inpatient drugs are prepared.
Healing Body and Mind
The Cancer Center social workers are important members of the holistic support team, guiding patients through complex therapy and helping them cope with the numerous non-medical problems that are commonly associated with cancer. Each cancer patient has a social worker who provides an initial assessment, identifies present and potential problems, and provides referrals to other support services such as psychiatric liaison, patient advocacy, mental health counseling, and spiritual guidance through the pastoral care team or patient support groups. This comprehensive emotional support is essential to our cancer care efforts, because the successful outcome of our treatment requires a positive attitude from the patients and their active participation in care.
Maintaining Good Nutrition
Most patients with cancer are nutritionally deficient as a result of their disease, the side effects of therapy, or because of lack of appetite. Thus, nutritional support of the patient is essential. A full-time nutritionist is assigned to the cancer program. Her role is to assess the patient's nutritional status and assist the patient and the team to meet nutritional goals and to correct nutritional deficiencies.