Biller Patient and Family Resource Center - Donor Impact Report

February 3, 2015 | by Tracy Schuster

Resource Center Sheri & Les Biller Family and Patient Resource Center

Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center - DONOR IMPACT REPORT NOVEMBER 2014

Thank you for supporting the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center. With your generosity, patients and families gain strength and hope during medical treatment through personalized, compassionate supportive care. And by sharing our expertise with other institutions through research and trainings, your generosity is making a difference for patients across the country and around the world. This report shows the impact of your partnership over the past year.

Funding affirms City of Hope’s excellence

With prestigious funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), City of Hope continues to train teams of practitioners at centers worldwide to replicate our programs. We hosted a second workshop, training 61 health care professionals from 18 institutions. Follow-up conference calls gave these teams the opportunity to report their progress. Many have implemented new programs to support their patients, such as a symptom management program, a supportive care council, a pilot distress screening program and a needs assessment. Other teams reported planning progress toward developing their own supportive care programs.

And with another $1.6 million NCI grant to train faculty and staff at various institutions to implement biopsychosocial screening, we have planned and recorded fourteen webinars. Topics include Understanding the Importance of Distress as the 6th Vital Sign; Promoting Evidence-Based Psychosocial Care for People with Cancer; and Demonstrating the Benefits of Screening. Follow-up questions have been posted on discussion boards and relevant articles, materials and resources have also been made available on the internet. The training program also brings multidisciplinary teams of trainees together for multi-day workshops. The first one was held in March 2014.

Advancing our SupportScreen tool

The Biller Patient and Family Resource Center continues to collaborate with clinical departments to implement SupportScreen, a pre-care assessment administered on a touchscreen device to pinpoint potential difficulties for patients and their families. Recently, the program was expanded to pediatrics, the medical oncology couples clinic, and the Women’s Health Center’s partners clinic. We also launched the surgical SupportScreen in Urology, and our goal is expand across all surgical clinics at City of Hope by the end of the calendar year. In addition, new initiatives with SupportScreen include a training program for volunteers to administer the program to patients, and a Chinese language version.

Helping patients make important care decisions

The Biller Patient and Family Resource Center hosted its first annual City of Hope National Healthcare Decisions Day in April. Over the past few years, the Biller Center has focused on promoting advance care planning — the process of discussing with patients their goals for treatment and their wishes about end-of-life care — and as a result planned this event in coordination with the national movement. Biller staff featured the simple tool GoWish, a card game designed to help patients, families and physicians approach conversations about end-of-life care. The four-hour event was attended by more than 300 people, including patients, caregivers, family members and City of Hope professional staff, with resounding positive feedback and requests for additional events to be held throughout the year.

Couples Coping with Cancer Together

In response to research that shows that one of the most important factors in helping women cope with cancer is the presence of a supportive partner, City of Hope’s Department of Supportive Care Medicine has pioneered Couples Coping with Cancer Together. This program, which supports both women battling breast cancer and their partners, was born out of an innovative strengths-based couple intervention pilot program called Partners’ Clinic, led by Matthew Loscalzo, L.C.S.W., Liliane Elkins Professor in Supportive Care Programs and Courtney Bitz, L.C.S.W. Now, Bitz is translating information gathered from the Partners’ Clinic to build a new model program for patient and partner support and education. Couples Coping with Cancer Together reframes cancer as an opportunity for couples to grow closer and stronger. Facing challenges — armed with an openness to learn how to express emotions and support each other in a new way — can actually strengthen relationships instead of deplete them.

Bitz has developed a screening tool to identify couples that are in distress and can most benefit from program participation . She is also creating educational materials that support healthy communication and gender-based problem-solving skills. Individual, group and web-based psychological counseling will be another major component of the program. And by collecting data on how women and their partners benefit from the program, Bitz and her team will continually refine interventions and create a model of care that other institutions around the country can replicate. The program has received more than $200,000 in private funding from City of Hope donors, and will be expanded to include all patients and their partners in the Women’s Cancer Program at City of Hope.

Hearing from our Spanish-speaking patients and families

We developed El Concilio, a Spanish-language arm of our Patient & Family Advisory Council — to our knowledge, the first of its kind in the country. This group is already participating in several hospital-wide initiatives, including the re-design of the Ambulatory Care building, Advance Care Planning education, and re-vamping City of Hope’s Spanish language website.

Developing New Places for Patients to Find Support

The Biller Patient and Family Resources Center continues to develop new support groups and services to provide places of connection, strength and healing for our patients and their families. This year, we designed and implemented the following new groups:

  • Bereavement support for parents and siblings of pediatric patients
  • Bereavement support for children/caregivers of adult patients
  • Education and support for stage IV metastatic breast cancer patients
  • Massage therapy for patients (also teaches caregivers at home techniques)
  • Chemotherapy education
  • I’m Done With Treatment, Now What?: 6-week education and support series for patients out of active treatment, up to 2 years. Topics include nutrition, physical fitness, emotional coping, sexuality and intimacy, and medical management.
  • Sleep workshop: Teaching patients and caregivers non-pharmacological techniques to fall asleep, reduce stress and anxiety
  • Kindle Lending Program: Partnered with Library Services to implement lending program of Kindles to patients undergoing chemotherapy
  • Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery (CLIMB) for TEENS Support Group
  • Partnering with Elizabeth A. Mc Donald Foundation to provide support for siblings of pediatric patients

Your Support Brings Hope

Patients and families who face cancer are particularly vulnerable. Your support helps to provide relief from pain, strengthen relationships, create companionship, and so much more — transforming illness from a burden to a stepping-stone. You are truly bringing hope to patients and families here at City of Hope, and those around the world who benefit from our research, training and education initiatives. Once again, thank you.

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