Local Paediatric Team Receives Award for Compassionate Patient Care

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A diagnosis of cancer is life changing and the journey that lies ahead can be difficult. For a child, that journey can be especially difficult. Time that was once devoted to play is now spent taking tests and enduring procedures. To assist patients in their cancer journey, healthcare professionals not only treat the physical symptoms of the disease but also the emotional ones. The emotional support provided by professionals and volunteers plays a significant role in a patient’s experience.

Cancer Care Ontario has presented seven deserving individuals and one team – who go above and beyond – with a Human Touch Award (HTA). The HTAs honour front-line cancer and renal healthcare professionals, providers and volunteers who provide exemplary and compassionate care in Ontario.

A team of nine radiation therapists and one orderly at the London Regional Cancer Program at London Health Sciences Centre are being recognized for going the extra mile for their young oncology patients. Kelly Ackerman, Quinn Benwell, Jessica Csoborko, Meghan Lewis, Brooke Minten, Abby Owsley, Melissa Reaume, Julie Rego, Allison Walker and Jeremy Whiston are the point people for paediatric patients and their families while undergoing radiation as part of their cancer treatment. This team exemplifies compassionate care by getting to know each child, personalizing every child’s experience in their cancer treatment and ensuring happy memories are made, even while in the hospital.

Csoborko uses her artistic talents to paint radiation masks for children to make treatment less scary; Benwell coordinated a princess party for a three-year-old patient; Whiston transports patients to and from the ward each day and always brings smiles to their faces. Together, the team has produced a cook book and run a cookie bake off to raise money for gifts that patients receive to celebrate their last day of treatment. The paediatric group has created personalized calendars to help young patients count their days of treatment and recognize their milestones. And, every three months, the team cooks a three-course meal for their local Ronald McDonald House, where many of their patients stay during treatment.

Paediatric cases have distinct needs compared to other patients. "Children don't always understand what is happening to them. They believe in fairy tales and look at the world with awe and wonderment," says Amanda Williams and Lesley Pringle, Coordinators of Radiation Therapy at the London Regional Cancer Program. "As health care professionals, we are faced with the challenge of effectively caring for and supporting these children, delivering accurate treatment while building their trust in us, and at the same time, preserving their innocence, curiosity and playfulness."

“These incredible individuals pride themselves in making a difference in the lives of patients when they are most vulnerable, says Neil Johnson, Regional Vice President of the South West Regional Cancer Program and Vice President of Cancer Services at London Health Sciences Centre. “I am proud and honoured to work alongside such caring, dedicated staff.”

“Compassion is vital in healthcare as it has the ability to shape the patient and family experience,” says Michael Sherar, President and CEO, Cancer Care Ontario. “This year’s award recipients have gone beyond what is asked of them to provide patients with exceptional care.”

The seventh annual Human Touch Awards are co-sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division and made possible by a donation from the RBC Foundation.

Photo: The radiation therapy team receives their Human Touch Award at a reception in Toronto on April 25, 2013.