Comfort in cancer care draws on pediatrics’ lessons — and on the input of patients

April 11, 2012 | by City of Hope Staff

When you want to learn how to make cancer patients more comfortable in the hospital, go right to the source: Ask the patients themselves.


Photo of City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital


Designers who created City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital consulted patients and their family members to make sure the facility had the small touches that could make a big difference to people struggling with illness. They put sleeper couches in patients’ rooms, allowing family members to stay overnight. They created recreational spaces, too, and the hospital offers recreational therapists who play games with patients and organize events like bingo.

It’s part of a comfort movement among a few hospitals that was recently chronicled by The national news outlet highlighted leading treatment centers that draw on lessons learned from pediatric care to help adult patients feel more at home when they’re in the hospital.

In the article, patient Hannah Komai, 21, described her experience at Helford Hospital for treatment of bone cancer. “They offer a lot of opportunities to get out of the hospital room, so I was able to spend time outside the room so I wasn't cooped up,” says Komai. She also praised the hospital’s use of smaller needles during her stay to draw blood, causing less pain.

City of Hope factors in the opinions and recommendations of two advisory councils of patients and family members — English and Spanish speakers — when planning programs and services. And the organization’s iCARE program aims to make patients and their caregivers welcome and comfortable when they arrive at the medical center.

Sometimes comfort comes from offering patients more choices. “We all know that kids can be picky eaters and typically have allowed them great freedom in menu selection while hospitalized,” says Shirley Johnson, R.N., M.S., M.B.A., chief nursing and patient services officer. “We now do that for adults, as well.”

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