On Nov. 15, 2018, the University of Cincinnati (UC) Cancer Institute’s Survivorship Program, supported by the Robert C. & Adele R. Schiff Family Foundation, celebrated something many programs cannot—offering cancer survivors a continuing care plan after beating the disease.
Many organizations across the country are struggling to meet the 50 percent mark of eligible patients having or being offered a survivorship care plan, as is required by the Commission on Cancer (CoC), a program of the American College of Surgeons.
But as of October, the UC program has hit the mark and is on track to keep the number rising.
"We offer a dedicated one-hour survivorship visit with patients, and at that time, we create a personalized care plan for them,” says Michelle Kirschner, a nurse practitioner in the Department of Family and Community Medicine who oversees the survivorship program. "We are the only system locally doing this. That way, each patient has a treatment summary and plan which he or she can take to a primary care physician to help treat the consequences of cancer treatment. This helps shepherd the patient back to wellness.”
Patients who undergo treatment for cancer can later experience nerve issues, cardiac issues or psychosocial problems, among other complications, which is why a care plan is so important, Kirschner adds.
"Meeting this goal improves our overall program and the care we deliver to patients,” she says.
The UC Cancer Institute is one of the first five in the nation to be certified by CoC, and meeting this goal helps this retain this recognition.