Community partnerships bring more services on site
You can never say a cancer patient is lucky-but if you’ve been diagnosed in the state of New York, you would be fortunate to receive treatment at the Cheryl R. Lindenbaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is a part of NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital (NYP/HVH) Cortland Manor campus.
Medical oncology, radiation oncology, the infusion center, and support services are all centrally located in one building, steps apart from one another. In addition, a forward-thinking, Magnet-recognized nursing staff has added many other unique components of care to the cancer center’s roster-such as a nurse navigator, on-site financial counseling, support groups, and cosmetic consultations.
“I have worked in nursing and oncology administration for more than 30 years, and this is one of the strongest staffs I’ve ever worked with,” said Anne Campbell-Maxwell, MBA, BSN, RN, administrative director of oncology services. “Most nurses on our team have 10 or more years of oncology experience and are certified by the Oncology Nursing Society.”
In addition to an experienced Magnet nursing team, the cancer center is staffed by board-certified physicians. All collaborate to identify the right approach for each patient. The team treats many cancers, but predominant are lung, breast, colorectal, and head and neck.
Campbell-Maxwell applauds her hospital’s administration for being receptive to new ideas and allowing the nurses to carry them out. Case in point: the cancer center’s on-site financial services counselor. “No patient ever walks in feeling they don’t know how they’re going to pay for their care,” she said. “The nurses who administer treatments end up hearing the details, because they spend the most time with patients. We advocated with our vice presidents of both finance and patient care services to have a financial services counselor specifically here in the cancer center.”
Another noteworthy example of bringing services on site was in the area of social work services, nutrition and support groups. “We had always provided patients with information about two of the wonderful support groups in our area: Support Connections and Gilda’s Club Westchester,” Campbell-Maxwell said. But after conducting a needs assessment, the staff realized patients would rather stay at the cancer center and attend a support group among the familiar faces they recognized from treatments.
“The feeling was, ‘I’m getting all my care here; why can’t I join a support group here, too?'” Campbell-Maxwell explained. The cancer center reached out to the organizations, and now the two community support groups hold meetings at the center.
Another unique partnership forged by the team was aligning with the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good, Feel Better” program. Once a month, patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation can come to the cancer center for free skin care and makeup tips. Often, free wigs and samples of cosmetics are given away to participants.
Campbell-Maxwell emphasized that these types of innovative partnerships are made possible only with the support of senior administration. “Here at NYP/HVH, we build on the interprofessional staff model,” Campbell-Maxwell said. “Physicians and nurses are interacting as true colleagues. Our doctors listen to our ideas because they realize: the nurse is the person on staff who spends the most time with the patients. We synthesize the data we gather from the patients and try to implement solutions that will meaningfully impact their care, thus improving their outcomes.”