The right care in the right place at the right time

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By Elise Copps

Hamilton Health Sciences is making sure cancer patients get what they need, when they need it—care that addresses their unique wishes as a person, not just their immediate problems as a patient.

They’ve created a new program with this specific goal in mind. It’s called RESSCU—Rapid Evaluation and Symptom Support Cancer Unit. The nurse practitioner-led service, based at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, gives people direct access to a highly trained team to manage their symptoms and the side effects of their cancer treatment.

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“It’s one stop with staff who have the knowledge and skills to care for these patients and their unique needs,” says Angela Djuric Paulin, who led team behind the project’s implementation. “It’s well integrated with our cancer clinics, so there’s a sense of familiarity and more personalized care.”

For Russell Crooks, who recently finished chemo and radiation, it’s a lifeline when he’s feeling very unwell. “The nurses are super in the RESSCU centre.”

Tailored care allows more people to get the treatment they need in the unit, rather than being admitted to the hospital. It also gives them an alternative to visiting the emergency department for symptoms like nausea and pain. These factors can lead to better health and reduce hospital gridlock.

The majority of people seen during RESSCU’s pilot phase were treated and discharged home. Within 48 hours, they get a follow up phone call to check on their symptoms. They say RESSCU has improved their experience and given them more confidence in the healthcare system.

Plans are in place to improve and expand RESSCU so more cancer patients can benefit from this innovative model.

Elise Copps is a public relations specialist at Hamilton Health Sciences.