Empowering Journeys: Melissa Campbell's Innovative Support Program for Cancer Patients
Meet Melissa Campbell, a compassionate and dedicated Inpatient Chemotherapy Clinical Nurse Coordinator at the Wesley Hospital.
Melissa has recently pioneered an innovative program aimed at providing crucial support to hospital patients during the intervals between chemotherapy sessions.
In the realm of cancer treatment, patients often undergo multiple rounds of chemotherapy, typically ranging from 4 to 8 cycles.
A cycle refers to the period between one round of treatment and the commencement of the next. After each treatment, patients are given a break to allow their bodies to recover, during which they are discharged from the hospital to recuperate at home, if medically appropriate.
Recognising the vulnerable nature of the rest period between cycles, Melissa and her team identified an opportunity to offer additional support to patients during this critical time.
“Having chemotherapy is a lot to take on and can be very stressful. We don’t like to assume patients know what to do or where to go so we wanted to create a process of patient education and follow up to ensure they have the information and support they need,” she said.
The Chemotherapy Service provide all patients with one-on-one education at the beginning of their chemotherapy treatments. This ensures patients and their loved ones have the specific information required to care for themselves at home.
Including side effect management, tips to help the side effects, things to avoid and when and who to call for medical assistance. Follow up for the chemotherapy patients is also an important factor that has proven to reduce patient readmission rates.
Melissa created a follow up process to give confidence to patients and their loved ones before discharging from the hospital.
Melissa and her team follow up with the patient after treatment but before they go home to answer any questions, make sure all steps of the process are completed and then make sure they know when and who to call if required, whilst also reminding patients of the booking process for their treatment.
This new process has given patients and their loved ones more confidence to discharge from hospital and book their next treatments. Melissa's new follow up system, implemented on an opt-in basis, garnered enthusiastic participation from many patients.
In her role, Melissa explained the intricacies of medical devices such as portacaths and PICCs (peripherally inserted central catheters) to patients as these are sometimes required for chemotherapy. Portacaths, discreetly situated under the skin, are reservoirs connected to a central line that sits in a vein close to the heart. PICCs, on the other hand, are small tubes inserted into a vein in the arm, covered with a transparent dressing.
Both portacaths and PICCs require special attention with dressing and care, and Melissa has been instrumental in guiding patients on the proper maintenance of these devices.
Melissa and the Chemotherapy Service aim to have a hands-on approach that extends beyond the hospital, personally calling patients once they are at home to check in on them, ensuring they are coping well with their treatment.
The impact of Melissa's program is evident in the feedback from patients who expressed increased comfort and confidence when leaving the hospital, armed with the knowledge of how to seek additional support if needed.
Melissa Campbell's commitment to enhancing the well-being of cancer patients exemplifies the invaluable role healthcare professionals can play in transforming the patient experience.
Her innovative program stands as a beacon of support, guiding patients through their challenging journeys with care, compassion, and education.