Patient navigators are City of Hope staff members who provide personalized guidance, support and assistance to patients and their families. These trained professionals help patients and their families negotiate complex health care systems and make use of the services that are needed to receive the best possible care.
A patient navigator contacts City of Hope patients before their second visit with a City of Hope physician to direct them to services and resources here, such as interpreters, financial counselors and social workers. Patient navigators remain available throughout the patients' entire experience at City of Hope.
City of Hope offers free interpretation for patients and caregivers whose first language is not English. Please call 626-256-HOPE (4673), ext. 62282, to reach the Clinical Social Work office.
As patients first begin their treatment journey, staff ask them to complete a series of questions on a touchscreen pad. Called SupportScreen, the system provides a way for new patients to report psychological, emotional, physical, rehabilitative, nutritional, spiritual and social concerns so that staff members can get them the help they need. SupportScreen currently is used in the medical oncology clinic and certain surgical and hematologic clinics.
Patient and Family Education
Education equips patients and families with the knowledge and skills they need to take an active role in their own care. City of Hope doctors, nurses and other health professionals provide one-to-one teaching to help patients and families partner in care as inpatients, outpatients and at home.
Educational classes and workshops are offered to help patients and their families learn about a variety of topics, such as eating well during cancer treatment, preparing for chemotherapy, managing pain and other symptoms and maintaining physical fitness. A patient and family orientation class teaches important, practical tips on how to navigate City of Hope and how to get the most out of a medical appointment. Staff members also offer workshops on how to effectively communicate with the health-care team. Class dates and times can be found in the Support Services calendar.
In addition, a dedicated cancer information resource nurse is available to talk to patients one-on-one by phone to provide information about diagnosis, treatment, symptom management and clinical trials. The nurse helps interpret medical reports and information, assists patients in developing questions to ask their health-care team and offers an understanding ear. For more information, call 626-256-HOPE (4673), ext. 3CARE (32273).
Patients and families also can find a comprehensive library of books, booklets and brochures related to all aspects of cancer, treatment such as chemotherapy, coping and caregiving within the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center.
Support and Professional Counseling
The Biller Patient and Family Resource Center professionals take great care to make sure that patients and their family members get the psychological, social and emotional support they need. Currently, health professionals screen all inpatients to help patients and their families who may benefit from additional emotional and social support. Screening also will expand to outpatients.
Our specially trained psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, spiritual care chaplains and pain physicians all work together to serve as a lifeline for patients. They can assist patients experiencing pain, as well as the anxiety, depression, isolation and the turbulence that accompanies an unexpected diagnosis and serious illness. Social workers also can share practical information such as how to locate lodging and transportation during treatment; they also can link patients and families to interpreters, if needed.
Please call 626-256-HOPE (4673), ext. 62282 to reach the Clinical Social Work office.
City of Hope strives to provide service that exceeds patients’ expectations and those of their families. A patient advocate is available to patients if they feel their physical, emotional or spiritual needs are not being met. Patient advocates assist patients and their families by facilitating communication with staff and resolving issues of concern. Patients or family members may reach the patient advocate office at 626-256-HOPE (4673), ext. 62285.
Educational, Problem-solving and Support Groups
City of Hope offers patient groups and caregiver support groups as well as several diagnosis-specific groups, including gynecologic, breast, lung, kidney and prostate cancers. Support group meeting dates and times are available on the Patient and Family Support Services calendar; for more information about these groups or to RSVP, please call 626-256-HOPE (4673), ext. 3CARE (32273). The center may also refer patients and families to community-based support groups.
Newly diagnosed patients and their family members may choose to be matched with experienced peers through the Hope Network. The program aims to provide emotional, practical, social and spiritual support by creating connections with compassionate volunteers whose similar experiences, diagnosis or treatment help them understand patients' or caregivers' situations. Hope Network was launched in June 2010 as a pilot project among breast cancer patients and those who care for them. To volunteer, or for more information, contact Sheila Hammer, M.S.W., in Clinical Social Work at 626-256-4673, ext. 63479. The program will eventually expand to all patients.
Supportive Care, Pain and Palliative Medicine
The mission of Supportive Care, Pain and Palliative Medicine is to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and their families by providing a comprehensive, holistic, innovative and interdisciplinary approach to the treatment of suffering and symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment. If you or your loved one is experiencing pain or other distressing symptoms, please talk to your physician or health care provider for a referral.
Many patients and their families rely on deeply held spiritual beliefs to help them through the difficulties of cancer treatment. To meet their unique spiritual needs, the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center connects patients and their families with City of Hope’s Spiritual Care staff. These professionals are trained to provide supportive care that meets the needs of patients and families of all beliefs. Spiritual Care staff coordinate ceremonies and rituals important to those of specific faiths, such as commemoration of Ash Wednesday and distribution of Shabbat boxes.
To reach Spiritual Care, please call 626-256-HOPE (4673), ext. 63898.
Despite modern medicine’s advances, some patients inevitably lose their battle with cancer,
City of Hope believes in helping patients reach the end of their lives with dignity and as comfortably as possible, while helping families and friends cope with grief and loss.
Child Life, Spiritual Care and Clinical Social Work staff members currently offer end-of-life services for patients and bereavement support for caregivers and families. Caring professionals can ensure that families' wishes are understood and honored by helping them create advanced directives; a supportive care nurse on staff specifically helps patients transition from the hospital to hospice.
City of Hope is widely known for providing sensitive end-of-life care; its Division of Nursing Research & Education leads the way nationally for research into improving such care for both patients and families.
As part of the Department of Supportive Care Medicine, the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center is helping to advance the practice of palliative care and ensuring supportive care medicine and maximum quality of life for all patients. Please speak to your physician for a referral.
Nutrition Services staff provide dietary care, education and counseling and help patients and their families make sense of the latest research to make informed food choices. Dietitians can assist with correcting nutritional deficiencies, minimizing treatment side effects, creating nutrition plans after treatment and more. Patients may speak to their physician for a referral.
Child Life Program
Experts in child development offer special services to children and teens undergoing cancer treatment. Whether they are inpatients or outpatients, boys and girls with cancer may be vulnerable to the stresses involved in therapy, illness and disruptions in family life. While in treatment, children may feel and look different from their peers and miss school and playtime with friends. Child life specialists restore a sense of normality to children’s lives and provide developmentally appropriate education and support while valuing the needs of parents and other family members. These caring staff members also can help children who have a parent going through cancer.
Biller Patient and Family Resource Center staff can refer appropriate patients and their families for this service.
School is an important part of life for children, teens, and young adults. The School Program at City of Hope helps patients to continue life through socialization and continued academic progress during treatment and recovery.
All K-12 students at City of Hope are encouraged to participate in our School Program. Please contact our School Program or ask any member of your medical team for more information. We are here to help. Learn more.
Healing Arts Programs
City of Hope understands that arts can lift the human spirit. Art and music therapy sessions are held regularly within the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center. In addition, singers and musicians perform regularly through on-campus venues such as the Hands on Harps concerts.
The practice of yoga also has been shown to improve mood, stress, sleep quality, cancer-related symptoms and quality of life among cancer patients. The Biller Patient and Family Resource Center offers several yoga sessions for patients and caregivers each week.
Periodic writing workshops and other sessions also are offered throughout the year. Times and dates for healing arts, yoga and other related programs are listed in the Support Services calendar.
Positive Image Center
Oftentimes, a few tips and some understanding guidance are all cancer patients need to feel more confident about their self-image during treatment. The Positive Image Center hosts the Look Good...Feel Better program, a free, community-based, national service that teaches female cancer patients beauty tips for use during chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The center offers make up, skin and personal care products, children’s items, and a line of hats, scarves and alternatives for hair loss, such as wigs. Cosmetologists staff the center, which is located near the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center. To find out more or to make an appointment, please call 626-256-HOPE (4673), ext. 63842.