Oncology nurses honor
the unique “you” of every patient

Whole-person approach to nursing is an essential element of patient-centered cancer care at City of Hope | Newport Beach Fashion Island

A friendly face and a calming environment go a long way toward making a chemotherapy appointment less stressful for someone facing cancer. Many patients who come to City of Hope | Newport Beach Fashion Island for infusion are grateful for the light, bright feeling — not just from the sunshine streaming through the windows, but from the warm welcomes from the nursing team.

Nursing Supervisor Kerry O’Neil, R.N., and her team have fostered a patient-centered environment that O’Neil calls a safe harbor. City of Hope is a uniquely compassionate place where everyone is seen and valued as a whole person, not “just” a cancer patient. It’s a place where people can come as they are, she said.

“People can tell us anything, and our patients really feel that empathy,” O’Neil said. “Many times, they will share with us the things they may be afraid to talk about with their loved ones who aren’t going through cancer treatment. They express their opinions and their fears, as well as all the good things going on in their lives.”

Closely Connected

The key to personalization is continuity of care, said O’Neil.

When someone first comes to the infusion center for chemotherapy, a nurse goes over the details of their treatment and explains what to expect. This will often be the same nurse the patient sees each time he or she comes in, and it allows close, comfortable relationships to flourish.

“We get to know our patients and their families. They tell us about their birthdays and anniversaries,” said O’Neil. “Each interaction with our patients is an opportunity for us to acknowledge and honor them.”

The sense of connection has even facilitated budding friendships among patients.

“We try to sit people together during infusions who are in similar situations,” said O’Neil. “They’ll often start talking and sharing tips about how they get through treatment, and it’s helped form some great relationships. Our patients can feel like they are coming in to see a group of friends,” O’Neil said.

Supportive Space

Connection also makes it easier to navigate the challenges of cancer treatment. O’Neil says patients can discuss fears or concerns without shame or judgment.

“Lingering cancer stigmas and their isolating effects need to be dispelled from our communities,” said O’Neil. “Breast cancer patients may feel anxiety if their appearance has changed. Lung cancer patients may experience guilt if they were smokers.

“To counteract that, our nurses make sure every patient knows they are honored and valued for who they are and that no one who cares for them thinks any less of them for what they are going through.” The nursing team can also connect them with Melissa Sadikoff, LCSW, a  social work program specialist at City of Hope | Newport Beach Fashion Island, for resources and counseling.

If patients aren’t in the mood to talk, that’s OK, too.

“Patients are grateful to be here because they know they are fully supported, and a lot of them say it’s not what they expected cancer treatment to be like,” said O’Neil. “They always say, ‘I know this might sound strange, but I'm happy I'm here today.’ And it is because City of Hope | Newport Beach Fashion Island, and every City of Hope location in Orange County, is built on a tradition of compassion and support.”

Visit www.cityofhope.org/OC to learn more. To make an appointment at any of City of Hope’s four Orange County locations, click here or call: