A cancer diagnosis affects more than just your health. At Akron General’s McDowell Cancer Institute, we understand what our patients and their families are facing following their diagnosis, which is why we extend a helping hand to each and every one of our cancer patients through our multi-disciplinary team, which includes nurses, caring and trained resource counselors, reimbursement specialists and a survivorship nurse. Our team is always happy to answer questions and help patients navigate the treatment process. To talk with a resource counselor, please call 330-344-HOPE.
Together with the medical and support staff, our resource counselors are there for patients from the very beginning, meeting with newly-diagnosed patients to help them begin the patient navigation process.
During the initial meeting, a resource counselor provides patients with helpful information, including the counselor’s contact information should patients have questions at any point during their treatment process. We encourage patients to complete an evaluation screening, which helps both the patient and the resource counselor identify potential areas of concern. Based on the screening or at the patient’s request, the resource counselor can provide assistance across multiple areas including:
- Review of patient and family support system
- Providing information about the psychosocial impact of cancer
- Providing or referring counseling to individuals and families
- Providing assistance with insurance or coordination of benefits questions
- Providing information about disability or work-related concerns, such as FMLA
- Providing assistance with cost-sharing or pharmaceutical assistance programs
- Providing crisis intervention when appropriate
- Assisting in decision making, including advance directives if needed
- Assisting with difficult-to-solve practical problems
- Providing information and education about the health care system
- Identifying appropriate resources and linkages within the community
- Teaching cognitive re-framing and problem solving skills to assist in adjusting
Throughout the treatment process, our resource counselors assist patients and their families with any questions regarding emotional, spiritual, financial, practical or other supportive needs. We understand that treatment extends beyond the doctor’s office or hospital setting, which is why our resource counselors focus on treating emotional and psychological needs by offering a wide range of support groups for both patients and their families, including the “I Can Cope Curriculum,” which is presented in partnership with the American Cancer Society.
Overall, resource counselors aim to remove as much stress or uncertainty as possible from the treatment process, which allows the patient to focus on getting well.
Life-saving cancer treatment and necessary medications can be expensive. For many patients, navigating the world of insurance coverage and treatment costs can be overwhelming and stressful. With the goal of alleviating that stress, a reimbursement specialist steps in to investigate and advocate on behalf of our patients.
The reimbursement specialist focuses on investigating each patient’s insurance benefits and coverage. For patients facing significant out-of-pocket costs, including those who are underinsured or uninsured, the reimbursement specialist identifies opportunities and will complete required applications for patients to receive financial assistance through outside foundations, grants or charitable organizations.
During 2012 alone, Akron General has helped to secure nearly $3 million, which has helped to provide life-saving cancer treatment for our patients, including nearly $695,000 to cover the cost of medications.
Once a patient’s treatment is finished, making the transition from cancer patient back to a normal routine can be tough. That’s why the support doesn’t end with a patient’s final appointment.
During a patient’s last appointment, a second, and final, evaluation screening will be offered. When appropriate, additional screening is used to help identify areas of concern during this transitional period. Based on the screening’s outcomes, or at the patient’s request, the resource counselor can provide assistance or guidance, including a list of resources and services available to patients and their families at the hospital or in the community.
In addition to our resource counselors, a specially trained survivorship nurse works closely with the physician, patients and their families following their final treatment to develop an individualized care plan, which details each patient’s treatment for future reference and offers post-treatment recommendations.
Akron General offers patients resources to help patients and their families through the cancer journey. We are also affiliated with some national organizations. By working with these national organizations, we can help extend our resources and support, help people stay well, find cures, and fight back against cancer.
Breast Cancer Fund of Ohio http://www.bcfohio.org/hope.htm