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While a patient at the Kimmel Cancer Center, you will be cared for by a team of health care providers, most of who specialize in the treatment of cancer patients. All members of your health care team welcome any questions that you and your family may have during your care. If you are admitted to the hospital, our experienced team of professionals will continue to care for you. It is important to understand that your primary oncologist may not be treating you when you are hospitalized, but we will communicate with him or her. Once you are released from the hospital, your care will continue with your primary oncologist and outpatient team.
As the leader of your health care team and the most senior-level doctor in charge of your care, an attending physician is in charge of planning your treatment and coordinating your care among all members of the team.
A fellow is an experienced internal medicine physician and is completing specialty training in oncology. The fellow will see you each day you are in the hospital and works with the attending physician to review all aspects of your care.
A medical resident works with the attending and fellow in making daily decisions about your treatment plan while you are an inpatient. A resident has a medical degree and is completing training in internal medicine.
The nurse manager oversees the staff on the nursing unit and is available to hear concerns about your care and safety. The nurse manager is an oncology nurse with an advanced degree.
Nurse Practitioner (NP) and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
The NP and CNS assist the physicians in planning and implementing your care. NPs and CNSs are oncology nurses who have gone through advanced training, and are certified at the state and national level.
Physician’s Assistant (PA)
The PA assists the physicians in planning and implementing your care.
The oncology nurse administers the treatment prescribed by your physicians, helps you to manage any side effects, and explains your care to you and your family. Your nurse will work with you to develop a plan of caring for you in the hospital and for when you return home.
The clinical associates are specially trained to do many nursing tasks and procedures like vital signs, blood drawing, dressing changes, helping with daily hygiene and EKGs. They assist your nurse with your care.
The support associates are responsible for tasks such as ordering and assisting with meals, transportation to tests and procedures, cleaning of certain equipment, removing trash from your room, cleaning your room and changing the linens.
Oncology Social Worker
The oncology social worker can help you and your family cope with the changes and stresses in your life that often occur with a diagnosis of cancer. Your social worker can provide information about support groups, housing, transportation, financial issues and discharge planning. There is no charge for meeting with a social worker at the cancer center, and if you wish to speak with one, you should let your nurse or physician know.
Many patients find strength and comfort in the practice of their faith whether through prayer, meditation, religious counsel, worship or other rituals. The hospital chaplain is available to lend spiritual support, as well as help you and your family contact a local minister, rabbi, imam or other faith leader. The chaplain’s job is always to help patients and their loved ones negotiate their own path no matter where it leads.
Cancer patients often have special dietary needs because of the effects of their therapy. A dietitian can advise you on how to manage problems such as loss of appetite, changes in your sense of taste, nausea, vomiting or weight gain or loss.
Some patients may find that they need help with performing certain skills and movements that are necessary for daily living activities such as personal care, childcare or work duties. An occupational therapist can offer patients special training based on your individual needs using adapted aids or methods to safely and efficiently complete specific tasks. Therapy sessions may be held in your room or in the occupational therapy department.
Your physicians may recommend that you meet with a physical therapist to help restore and improve your strength, flexibility and stamina. A physical therapist can develop a treatment plan uniquely tailored to your physical needs including exercise, massage and heat and cold applications. Therapy sessions may be held in your room, the exercise room, or in the physical therapy department.
Psychiatric Liaison Nurse
Psychiatric Liaison Nurses are available to talk with you, evaluate your concerns and make recommendations or provide treatment to improve your emotional well being, which may be stressed by a diagnosis of cancer and its treatment. Some of the emotional difficulties they can help with are anxiety and depression. There is no charge for these services.
Speech therapists help patients with speech and swallowing problems that happen as a result of cancer. They teach patients exercises and different ways to talk, like using an electro-larynx. Patients are also taught to use certain positions, kinds of foods, and exercises to swallow safely.
Volunteers support patients and staff in many ways, such as providing reading materials and snacks, running small errands, visiting patients and assisting in the patient education room and waiting areas.