At City of Hope, the Alpha Clinic grew out of the Day Hospital, an outpatient hub for therapeutic transplants of blood stem cells. Kim was there on day one of both endeavors, and she lauds her colleagues’ flexibility and dedication.
“Everybody’s willing to do whatever they need to for the patients,” she said, “and I feel lucky to receive so much support from everyone around me in the Alpha Clinic.”
The Alpha Clinic thrives on nurses’ stretching out of their comfort zones. Those previously steeped in care for hematological malignancies must watch over patients facing illnesses such as brain cancer, HIV/AIDS and hemophilia, and deliver first-in-human investigational treatments tested at City of Hope.
Going with the flow is second nature for Kim. A former per diem nurse at City of Hope, at times she had to float from unit to unit. And then again, in the first months of the Day Hospital, while the new unit was being set up, she and her colleagues served as utility players.
“Sometimes it’s hard to wake up and not know where you’re going to work that day. But I enjoyed it. You just have to go in with a positive attitude,” Kim said.
Being a familiar face to co-workers around campus was another advantage for her, since collaboration is vital at the Alpha Clinic. In addition to working smoothly alongside the Day Hospital, the clinic’s staff closely coordinates with the studies’ principal investigators and those who manage clinical trials at City of Hope, among others.
According to colleague and “hybrid nurse” Christina Joseph, B.S.N.
, the chance to collaborate, learn and grow is a perk of the job.
Said Joseph: “For our patients, we’re not just nurses. We wear many hats. We’re advocates. We’re educators. The opportunity to call myself a researcher is another hat, and it’s an honor to wear it. Seeing what we’re doing with stem cell therapy is, quite frankly, phenomenal.”
Perrin looks at this type of activity as a sea change for nursing, at City of Hope and across the health care industry.
“This whole way of looking at nursing is because we’re going to need the strength of this discipline to manage care,” she said. “We see it in the care model in our clinics — maximizing your resources for efficiency and quality. In the Alpha Clinic, this small little unit, we had the right stuff come together. It was serendipitous, but it happened.”
Rodica Stan, Ph.D., is the corresponding author for this
Stem Cells Translational Medicine publication. John A. Zaia, M.D., the Aaron D. Miller and Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy and program director of the Alpha Clinic, is senior author. Other authors were CIRM’s Geoffrey P. Lomax, Dr.P.H., and City of Hope’s Pamela Giesie, M.S.N., R.N., Jason Tabor, M.B.A., B.S.N., R.N., Virginia Le Verche, Ph.D., and Shirley Johnson, M.S., M.B.A., R.N. The work was funded by CIRM grant AC1-07659.