STAR Certified, A New Level Of Cancer Care
Cooperstown, N.Y. – While cancer treatment can be life saving, it is also traumatic. There are serious side effects that interfere with daily life and the patient’s well being. Fatigue, memory loss, anxiety, depression and trouble sleeping often plague survivors. In order to better help survivors recover their health, the Bassett Cancer Institute has invested in becoming STAR Program® Certified. Through the STAR Program, Bassett providers who work with cancer patients have been trained in the latest oncology rehabilitation care and are implementing research-based processes proven to help cancer survivors optimize their healing and function.
“The past approach in cancer care was to tackle each health issue as it came up,” notes Chief of Oncology Dr. James Leonardo. “But today we know that the evaluation of a patient needs to look at everything from diagnosis through treatment to post cancer care. Patients may not realize that there is a lot we can do to help with things like pain, sleep deprivation, diet, endurance and loss of strength. These don’t have to be accepted conditions as the result of cancer treatment.”
Under the STAR Program, each patient’s needs are assessed and a personalized rehabilitation plan developed for that patient. The rehabilitation plan pulls in medical specialists from different disciplines—physicians, physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dietitians, and mental health professionals—who work to help optimize daily functioning so that the patient can enjoy a good quality of life.
STAR Program Certification was created by Julie Silver, M.D., an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a breast cancer survivor who could not accept that the changes to her body and her life caused by her cancer and its treatment would be her “new normal.” Silver says, “Patients are too often sent home after their acute care without follow up support for help with healing.” She developed an approach to address the needs of cancer survivors by educating providers and establishing evidence-based clinical protocols. Silver also developed a system in which a team of providers would work with each patient to increase strength and energy levels, alleviate pain, and improve function and quality of life.
A new fund at Bassett Healthcare Network, the Beacon of Light Fund, in memory of a cancer patient, provided seed money for STAR Program Certification. Anyone interested in supporting this fund may contact the Friends of Bassett Healthcare Network at (607) 547-3928.