Touro Infirmary

FALL 2013

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Advances in care Cancer treatment is evolving by leaps and bounds. Among the latest advances to watch for are: ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE Feeling more comfortable during chemo treatments starts with the employees you encounter when you enter a facility, says Susan Yackzan, director of clinical oncology at Baptist Health Lexington in Lexington, Ky. "Our patients see the smiling faces of these employees, who always seem to know what to say to make the patients and their family feel at ease," she says. That also translates to the environment at a cancer center, says Dr. Olivarez, who says she works hand-in-hand with Schneck Medical Center to keep the atmosphere as relaxing as possible. "We have a nice large lobby when you walk in that has natural light and a fireplace that we light in the winter to make it feel warm," she says. "We also have a little garden with flowing water, a pond and beautifully kept flowers and small trees. Patients can walk out there, or have a lovely view to look at." Some hospitals are adding a personal touch to chemo sessions by offering homey extras, such as the snacks, beverages, milkshakes, a la carte items and boxed lunches available to patients at Baptist Health Lexington. Patients there can also use chairside touch-screen computers to access the Internet, movies on demand, TV and music. In addition, volunteers and the integrative therapy team provide hand massages. The ideas for some of these new offerings have come from chemo patients themselves, as more hospitals and treatment centers take patient requests and recommendations into consideration. Baptist Health Lexington, for example, implemented patient satisfaction surveys that are reviewed by the facility's director, and the input is shared with staff members. "Survey results are provided in real time from the chairside computers to the supervisor's email, so that issues can be addressed immediately," says Yackzan. PERSONAL TOUCH BENEFITS As more hospitals adapt their chemo care to the idea that cancer is a life event rather than strictly a medical issue, patients can expect to find even more options for comfort during treatment sessions, say experts. medical oncologist and hematologist, Schneck Medical Center, Seymour, Ind. "A cancer diagnosis can be emotionally and spiritually stressful, and often the chemotherapy treatments can cause physical stresses," says Yackzan. "Helping patients cope with and moderate those stresses depends on the type of cancer, the stage, the treatment plan chosen and, of course, the individual patient's current and prior health problems and life experiences. But we … work with them to integrate the plan of care into their lives." Decreasing a chemo patient's anxiety level is important, agrees Dr. Olivarez. "[At Schneck Medical Center], patients always see the same set of nurses and techs, and even the same receptionist, so they have consistency and know what's going on every time," she says. "It's calming, and it allays the anxiety about treatments and what's coming next." • Mindfulmatters Patients who need help coping with the emotional challenges of cancer treatment can often beneft from mindfulness techniques, say experts. At St. Cloud Hospital in Minnesota, the cancer center ofers patients access to a meditation room, yoga classes and art therapy sessions, says Dr. Don Jurgens, medical oncology section leader. "We also ofer in-house marriage therapy and palliative care specialists, and will soon have a psychiatrist on site part time," he says. Enlightenment comes through education as well, says Dr. Jurgens, and his hospital prides itself on teaching cancer patients to be involved in their own healthcare decisions. "We have a patient library, multiple care coordinators and processes for thorough follow-up with our oncology nurses and nurse practitioners to stay on top of side efects," he says. "Even for patients who do not experience signifcant toxicity, the individualized attention they receive is reassuring and calming in and of itself." w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m FA L L 2 013 SPI RIT O F WOM EN SHUTTERSTOCK { "We … have a little garden with fowing water, a pond and beautifully kept fowers and small trees. Patients can walk out there, or have a lovely view to look at." ~ Dr. Dolores Olivarez, • Gene therapy – DNA that codes a therapeutic gene to replace a mutated one and can deliver chemotherapy drugs more efectively • Targeted therapies – Drugs designed to attack a specifc area of cancer cells • Vaccines – Te Food and Drug Administration has approved the frst vaccine for advanced prostate cancer. Unlike vaccines designed to prevent illness, this vaccine treats it. Vaccines for other types of cancers are also being tested. 21

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