How donors impact my department: An interview with Melanie Brown, regional operations manager, Samaritan Hematology & Oncology consultants
What role does your department play in patient care?
We play a huge role in patient care. We see patients at the beginning of a cancer diagnosis until the end of their treatment and into their survivorship years. It can be a short journey or a long journey depending on the stage of diagnosis and prognosis. Our cancer program team surrounds the patient with information, education, compassion, financial assistance, support services and excellent care during the duration of their journey with us.
How many patients has your department cared for over the past year?
As of the end of August 2013, approximately 4,630. We served over 10,000 patients in 2012.
In your own words, how have foundation dollars helped your department care for patients?
These foundation dollars are priceless to our program. The funds allow us to provide uninterrupted care and services for our patients. Knowing this foundation money is available to us is reassuring to the physicians, staff and patients. It sometimes means a patient chooses to go forward with treatment that he or she might otherwise put off because of financial need.
Could you share a story about a specific patient who was particularly impacted by a program or piece of equipment that the foundation helped provide?
We had a patient who received chemotherapy for breast cancer and the chemotherapy impacted her teeth. She suffered with this for approximately a year, making it challenging to eat. We stepped in using foundation money and restored her smile and confidence by purchasing her dentures. Her health has improved and her outlook has improved. This made a world of difference for this patient who felt that breast cancer had taken her life to a lower quality.
What message would you like to convey to donors who have provided support for your department?
Making a donation to the Samaritan Cancer Fund is a pay-it-forward donation. The funds are used for transportation for cancer patients who cannot afford gas, and would otherwise stop treatment if they had no transportation. It is used for assisting low-income patients with medications and assists with basic financial and medical needs. Without this fund, we could not provide these extras to patients in need.
New equipment purchased and programs funded
The Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation has approved $276,049 in funding for equipment and programs at the hospital and associated clinics so far this year. Examples include:
- Funding for Arts in Health Care services, which bring professional artists into the hospital to work directly with patients
- A new oximeter for the Center for Women and Families
- New microscope equipment for the hospital laboratory
- Remodeling work on the Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute
- Scholarships for health care students through the Mullins Endowed Scholarship Fund
Family mental health program continues to grow
Thanks to funding from the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation, the Samaritan Mental Health Family Center continues to expand new services for children and adolescents in our community. Here are some recent program highlights:
Thanks to donor support, last year Samaritan was able to recruit a medical director for the program. Caroline Fisher, MD, PhD, came to the Samaritan Mental Health Family Center from Massachusetts where she was a leader in the area of child and adolescent psychiatry. She now oversees the center’s fledgling child and adolescent program. To meet the need for more child psychiatrists in the area, she and child and adolescent psychiatrist Tim Blumer, DO, are in the process of creating a child psychiatry fellowship training program. Dr. Fisher feels this will not only help recruit child psychiatrists to the area but also link the available child services more closely together as community agencies participate in training.
The center has already successfully conducted some outreach and education, and has partnered with other community agencies to create new initiatives. The center has helped strengthen the therapy internship program at Old Mill Center for Families and Children and together with Linn County Mental Health and the Educational Service District, launched a successful pilot project in Linn County middle schools to screen for potential suicide threats. With the rollout of the new InterCommunity Health Network (IHN) Coordinated Care Organization (CCO), the Family Center has been working with the IHN CCO on developing creative programs that will most effectively meet the needs of youth in the community, as well as continuing to provide the more traditional therapy and medication management. The program is off and running successfully!