Pediatric cancer care close to home.
Naperville Sun HealthAware column:
Pediatric cancer care benefits from partnership
November 20, 2012
In late 2011, Kim and Keith Grispo of Plainfield learned their 5-year-old daughter, Hannah, had acute lymphocytic leukemia. They found some relief in learning from doctors at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital that Hannah was considered to be in a lower-risk category than if she had another type of leukemia.
Still, Hannah had about two years of chemotherapy ahead of her. In addition to their concerns about Hannah, the Grispos worried about the impact of the treatment schedule on the whole family.
“I wondered how we were going to make frequent trips to the city and still do all the things we normally do, especially since I travel,” Keith says.
Childhood cancers are relatively rare and typically require highly specialized services available through academic medical centers. Hannah’s physician, Dr. Charles Rubin of the University of Chicago Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, is part of a team of experts at Comer who diagnose children with cancer and leukemia, and develop treatment plans for them.
Thanks to a collaboration between Edward Hospital and physicians from Comer, some suburban children with cancer or leukemia now have a more convenient treatment option.
“The collaboration offers the latest technology and protocols available from an academic medical center, with the convenience of receiving some treatment close to home,” says Diane Blevins, director of children’s services at Edward.
In addition to receiving chemotherapy at Edward, kids can have surgery there to implant a porta-cath, a small medical device providing easy access to veins. If the patient develops fevers or other problems, Edward has a pediatric emergency department, a pediatric intensive care area and pediatric hospitalists available 24/7.
Edward’s pediatric nurses, who are specially trained in chemotherapy for kids, get high marks from Kim.
“Despite the convenience (of Naperville), we would have continued to go downtown for all treatment if it weren’t for the great care available at Edward,” she says.
Dr. Rubin and a pediatric nurse practitioner oversee Hannah’s care at both facilities, keeping her care as seamless as possible. Two other pediatric hematologist/oncologists from the University of Chicago also see patients at both Edward and Comer.
Hannah is in remission, with the last day of chemo scheduled in March 2014. For now, she has medical visits every 28 days for blood work or chemotherapy, with two of every three visits at Edward.
When Dr. Rubin set out to quantify the benefits of an academic center/community hospital collaboration for pediatric cancer care he enlisted the help of Waubonsee High School senior Taylor Hughes. By comparing two hypothetical patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia, she illustrated the impact of pediatric oncology services provided at Edward.
One child was treated solely at a downtown Chicago academic medical center, while the other also received care from Edward’s pediatric oncology services. Shifting part of the patient’s care to Edward saved about 400 hours of travel time and $1,100 in trip expenses over the course of treatment. It also allowed the patient to miss 64 percent fewer school days.
The Grispos experienced benefits similar to those in the study of the virtual family that used Edward services. For example, it allowed Kim to return home on Hannah’s treatment days before her 9-year-old sister, Hailey, got home from school.
“I didn’t fully realize how helpful it would be to be able to go to Edward for treatments and to see Dr. Rubin,” Keith says. “I think the partnership is great.”
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services