KINGSPORT – A diagnosis of lung cancer can leave patients confused, afraid and feeling very alone. At Holston Valley Medical Center, lung-cancer patients and their families now have a network of support to guide them as they journey from diagnosis and treatment to a return to health.
The hospital’s newly established thoracic oncology program integrates patient advocacy, physician communication and community education to provide truly streamlined care for lung-cancer patients. The program is modeled on the hospital’s highly successful breast cancer program.
“This program is a wonderful asset to our patients,” said Tom Enright, Holston Valley’s director of oncology services. “When a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer, he or she can suffer from an overload of emotional and physical stress.
“Now patients and families have a support system and help them through one of life’s most difficult times.”
Registered nurse Teresa Bailey serves as coordinator of the thoracic oncology program. It is her responsibility to guide patients through the treatment process, serving as a patient advocate, a physician liaison and – most importantly – a source of support when it’s needed most.
“I’m here to help people through the cancer experience,” Bailey said. “When you find out you have lung cancer, the news is overwhelming. And then you immediately have to consider all the various treatment options.
“It’s a lot for a patient and a family to handle. It’s my job to remove the uncertainty and confusion and help people make the decisions that are best for them.”
In addition to Bailey’s role as patient advocate, the thoracic oncology program incorporates Wellmont Holston Valley’s long-standing lung-cancer conferences. At the weekly conferences, physicians from all different disciplines come together to chart an integrated course of treatment for lung-cancer patients.
A third component of the program is community education to highlight the dangers of tobacco use and promote healthy lifestyle choices.