Newsroom

First-in-nation partnership paves the way for major leap forward in total cancer care
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Recognizing that social and emotional support are critical components of complete cancer care, Greenville Hospital System announced today the Center for Integrative Oncology and Survivorship and a pioneer partnership with Cancer Support Community (CSC) – one of the largest worldwide providers of social and emotional support for cancer patients and their caregivers.

According to a 2008 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), between one-third and one-half of all cancer patients experience some level of distress, which can range from expected levels of sadness and anxiety to very high levels that can interfere with a patient’s treatment and ability to cope. Studies conducted by the IOM and others show that integrating psychosocial services into the medical standard of cancer care can reduce distress, improve patient outcomes and optimize quality.

“Research shows that social and emotional support is as important as medical care in the face of a cancer diagnosis,” said Dr. Larry Gluck, medical director of GHS’ Cancer Center. “Cancer Support Community is a leader in psychosocial oncology, and we are pleased to integrate their evidence-based programs and services into our cancer care delivery model to ensure our patients get the best medical and psychosocial care available.”

GHS is the first hospital in the nation to integrate CSC’s programs and services into the hospital setting and one of the first hospitals to implement CSC’s CancerSupportSource – a distress screening program that integrates screening, referral and follow up care through a streamlined, web-based program. The online screening takes less than 10 minutes, and when complete, provides information about a patient’s current level of distress and available support programs and services.

Beginning in 2015, all cancer patients will be screened for distress per new patient-centered standards set by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

“CSC is proud to have been one of the organizations working closely with the Commission on Cancer to deliver their patient-centered standards, and we are thrilled that GHS is bringing this focus to the Upstate community,” said Kim Thiboldeaux, president and CEO of Cancer Support Community. “Routine screening for distress and early intervention has demonstrated improved patient outcomes across many studies, and we applaud GHS for providing this as an integrated part of complete cancer care.”

In addition to distress screening, other CSC programs and services include a personalized assessment and care plan, support groups (in-person and online), health and wellness programs and educational programs. All of the CSC programs and services are available to patients at no cost through GHS’ Center for Integrative Oncology and Survivorship.

Soon to be located on the first floor of GHS’ Cancer Center, the Center for Integrative Oncology and Survivorship focuses on survivorship and integrating evidence-based complementary therapies with traditional cancer care. Complementary therapies, in concert with traditional therapies, provide holistic, patient-centered care encompassing mind, body and spirit. Therapies to be offered include oncology rehabilitation, yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, music therapy and nutrition.

The survivorship component of the Center is led by a team of physicians and other health care professionals specially trained in survivorship issues whose role is to help patients develop a personalized survivorship plan that can enhance treatment efficacy and symptom control and promote overall healing. This plan may include CSC programs and services and/or complementary therapies like the ones previously mentioned.

“Survivorship begins when a patient is diagnosed and continues throughout treatment and beyond, which is why it’s important to treat the whole patient – not just their physical needs,” said Dr. Mark O’Rourke, medical director of GHS’ survivorship program. “Cancer is not a simple disease, and survivorship care is about healing each person and helping improve their quality of life.”

Early identification and treatment of a patient’s psychosocial needs through these types of counseling and support services is likely to yield cost-savings for health care institutions. In fact, a 2000 study published in Progress in Brain Research shows that patients with general distress, who participate in psychotherapeutic interventions, experience a decrease in the following: average length of hospital stay, hospitalization frequency, physician office visits, emergency room visits and number of prescriptions.

The cost typically associated with providing the types of psychosocial programs and services CSC offers is between $60,000 and $100,000. GHS is able to provide them free of charge thanks to the financial support of the Palmetto Peloton Project (P3), a local non-profit organization committed to promoting the advancement of cancer research and advocacy through fund-raising bicycle rides.

Over the last seven years, P3 has raised more than $720,000 for survivorship programs, oncology rehabilitation and research at GHS through its annual Stars and Stripes Challenge and its Challenge to Conquer Cancer relay ride from Greenville to Austin, Texas.

In addition to helping fund these necessary support programs and services, between $150,000 and $200,000 of P3 funds will be used to transform the ground floor of the GHS Cancer Center. The newly renovated space will create an oasis for patients and house a survivorship suite that will include a nutrition bar, reflection room and space for support groups to meet. The suite will be staffed by volunteers who have either survived cancer or have a connection to cancer through a family member or friend.

“Our goal has always been to provide hope, encouragement and unity to those affected by cancer,” said P3 President Kevin Dunn. “In supporting these critical support programs and services and helping to create a healing space for patients, we are doing just that – we are truly living our mission. This is a perfect example of the community helping the community, and Greenville has once again shown that it is a very giving community.”

Renovation of the ground floor of the Cancer Center is expected to start this summer and be finished by late fall.

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About Cancer Support Community
The mission of the Cancer Support Community (CSC) is to ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community. In 2009, The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club joined forces to become the Cancer Support Community. The combined organization, with more than 50 years of collective experience, provides the highest quality social and emotional support for people impacted by cancer through a network of 56 licensed affiliates, more than 100 satellite locations and a vibrant online community, touching more than one million people each year. Backed by evidence that the best cancer care includes social and emotional support, CSC offers these services free of charge to men, women and children with any type of stage of cancer, and to their loved ones. As the largest professionally-led non-profit network of cancer support worldwide, CSC delivers a comprehensive menu of personalized and essential services including support groups, educational workshops, exercise, art and nutrition classes, and social activities for the entire family. In 2011, CSC delivered more than $40 million in free services to patients and families. CSC is advancing the innovations that are becoming the standard in complete cancer care.

About Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center
Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center (GHS) is committed to medical excellence through research and education and is accredited by The Joint Commission. GHS offers patients a sophisticated network of expertise and technologies through its five medical campuses, tertiary medical center, research and education facilities, community hospitals, physician practices (University Medical Group) and numerous specialty facilities in upstate South Carolina. The 1,268-bed system is home to 14 medical residency and fellowship programs and the state’s largest number of active clinical research trials – 613. For the third consecutive year, its flagship Greenville Memorial Hospital has been ranked among the nation’s top 50 hospitals in a specialty area in U.S. News’ 2011-12 publication of America’s Best Hospitals. In July 2012, GHS will welcome the charter class of its four-year medical school, University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. Visit www.ghs.org for more information.