I would like to recognize the Radiation Oncology department for their great compassion and care to the patients and families they serve. They are a true example of achieving our best together as they continually work together, with a seemingly seamless workflow. They have some super emotionally tough cases and still treat each patient and family with true compassion. They are leading a transformation in the way they seek new and changing resources when things are outside of their scope. It is evident that the patients and families feel comforted by their presence (both during treatment and when they are done). The whole team serves with great care.
Over the last 4 months, I have collaborated and worked with the members of the rad/onc team. It has not just been with one patient specifically, but really through the way that each and every member of the team truly makes the family feel important, respected, and cared for. The rad/onc team takes the time to check-in with patients when they are admitted (or change to a different unit like ICU) and seek appropriate resources when situations are out of their scope of service (ex: involving child life specialists when there are very valid needs).
In thinking about a recent case, in particular, the radiation oncology team met a 17-year-old patient of mine when she was in the ICU. The team was very understanding of all family dynamics and respectful of the family’s wishes. I witnessed the care and compassion of the team during the initial discussion. From that point forward, the rad/onc team included me (child life specialist) in all appropriate ways while caring for this patient. The radiation therapist took the time to collaborate to explain little details of the process and encouraging patient to attempt treatment awake. It was very important to Mom that a religious photo was in the room during each treatment, and the prep team ensured that. When the patient was later transferred to rehab and then readmitted to the 4th floor, the team was sure to visit the patient at the bedside, just to show their overarching compassion and care for their patients. This is a terminal case. Not one that will end with a long lifespan for the patient. When the patient started to ask questions, the radiation therapist sought child life to help explain. We then involved the doctors, psychologist, and social worker—a truly interdisciplinary approach. Because of the knowledge and understanding of the rad/onc team, this patient was able to have her questions answered and feel at peace knowing that she was no longer being “kept in the dark.”
Another great example of interdisciplinary care has to do with a 6-year-old patient who recently died. The rad/onc team, while administering palliative radiation, went above and beyond to make sure that the patient and parents were comfortable and happy as they came into the rad/onc environment each day. A few weeks later when the patient was actively dying, I spoke with Mom in the room. She shared that she was “so incredibly happy that the rad/onc team had her daughter ring the bell.” Mom said, “I know she will never ring the end of chemo bell, but it was so special that she could do that one.”