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health matters 101919

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M A T T E R S Dominican Hospital's Katz cancer resource center: a Bounty of free offerings for tHe community t he Bennett & Suzy Katz Cancer Resource Center at Dominican Hospital offers lots of support to individuals with cancer. It's housed at the Mary and Richard Solari Cancer Center, where the Dominican Hospital Infusion Center is also located. Katz Center programs and services, including guidance from patient navigators, are free of charge thanks to donations (through the Dominican Hospital Foundation) from patients and community members. Staff includes three oncology certified nurses (and a fourth who will be certified soon), a dietitian, a social worker, and a financial advocate. Also, Dignity Health Medical Group-Dominican recently welcomed an additional oncologist to its staff, who provides services at the Solari Center. Patients who visit the Katz Center start by meeting with an oncology- certified nurse. These nurses have completed additional specialized education. "The Katz Cancer Resource Center aims to provide resources and support groups that empower patients and caregivers to help decrease the stress that is so often associated with the journey through cancer," says Bilingual Oncology Nurse Navigator Renee Aispuro Gonzalez, who has been at the Center for four years. Patient navigators assist during diagnosis, treatment and recovery—including helping patients and their families understand their plans of care in detail. The Katz Center boasts more than a dozen free classes and support groups for people with cancer and their families and friends. Oncology support services include supportive groups such as Bone Marrow, Cancer, Caregiver, Lymphedema, Prostate Cancer, and Young Adult. Other programs include Chemotherapy 101, Creative Expression Through Art, Katz Kids (for kids who have had a loved one affected by cancer), Eating Well Through Cancer (which is a nutritionist consultation), Gentle Yoga, and Look Good Feel Better. "Our robust yoga program, free to oncology patients, offers three weekly drop-in classes, " says Gonzalez. Creative Expression is a special event held every few months, always featuring a new art project. Past topics have included collage. Pre-registration is required to ensure there are enough supplies. At the next session, November 20, attendees will make beaded jewelry. These art workshops are open to adults who have, or had, cancer. "Often, it's a place where people discuss their cancer journeys," says Gonzalez. "All of our groups provide a great environment for people to meet others who are currently going through, or have experienced, similar journeys." The Center is open to creating different groups in the future. "It's all about what the community would like," adds Gonzalez. Gonzalez's 15 years as an oncology nurse, serving many different roles, have taught her a lot about patients' needs. Her current position requires having "…lots of empathy and a high level of knowledge about treatments that are always changing and improving. My days are never the same. It is rewarding to find solutions for patients who are experiencing barriers to care or resources." Katz Center is the only place in the county that has a "Look Good, Feel Better" program. "This wonderful program connects our patients with licensed cosmetologists who provide a one-time lesson on helpful beauty tips and techniques to oncology patients," says Gonzalez. "Your appearance changes a lot when undergoing treatment, so it's nice to have someone who can provide guidance (including makeup). It helps empower patients and rebuild confidence. If you look better, you feel better. Again, it's helpful for participants to meet others going through the same thing. The program provides a sense of camaraderie, and attendees often build lasting friendships." Katz Center hosts monthly Fireside Chats, where experts discuss various issues surrounding cancer. These sessions are very popular. Recent topics have included "Benefits Of Oncology Rehab" (with an oncology rehab therapist) and "Young Adult Stupid Cancer Meet-Up" (with an oncology social worker and a local meet-up group geared to those 40 and under). The schedule for 2020 is currently being finalized and will include surgeons, oncologists, and Dominican Hospital's Master Gardener talking about the connection between wellness and gardening (Dominican features an all-organic garden). Katz offers special events including a few in the very near future such as "Medicare Options for 2020" (Oct. 29 at Katz), and "Evolving Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer and Evolving Treatment Paradigms" (Oct. 30 at Dominican). The Center has the only Santa Cruz County wig bank, providing free wigs to patients who are about to undergo treatment since chemo often causes people to lose their hair. Everyone is welcome; it doesn't matter what insurance a person has. Interested patients should call the center to schedule a wig fitting. There are other head coverings such as scarves and hats for those who want alternatives. American Cancer Society Majority donates most of the wigs; local individuals and groups donate hand-knit hats. Oncology certified massage therapist Jane Clemens performs massage at the Infusion Center three days a week. "It's a wonderful service that can relieve anxiety and provide comfort," says Gonzalez. In addition to all of its on-site offerings, the Center provides many referrals to support services and other programs. For example, they often utilize Teen Kitchen Project and WomenCARE (the CARE stands for Cancer Advocacy, Resources and Education). One WomenCARE program that some patients use is SOS: Sisters Offering Support, where trained cancer survivors provide one-on-one peer support for women living with any type of cancer. Patients need to register with WomenCARE and request this service; once they are matched, they may chat over the phone, or meet for coffee and/or a walk, etc. Outpatient Oncology Services Director Kathy Finnigan has led Dominican Hospital's Outpatient Oncology Services—which includes the Infusion Center and Katz Cancer Resource Center— for six years, initially as the manager. "I take pride in applying Dominican Hospital's mission, vision, and values to guide the services our Solari Cancer Center brings to the community. Thanks to close collaboration with the hospital's administration and steadfast support from the Dominican Hospital Foundation, the Solari Center provides comprehensive support services not typically available in other community hospital systems." In the last six years, they have successfully developed a Lung Cancer Screening Program, a Cancer Rehabilitation Program, and a multidisciplinary and bilingual Patient Navigation Program at the Bennett and Suzy Katz Cancer Resource Center. "In partnership with local non-profit and county organizations, the Katz Center team problem- solves barriers to care, such as transportation, nutrition and food insecurity, insurance issues, and access to treatment medications." "The Solari Cancer Center (which Katz Center is a part of) is the only Santa Cruz County cancer program accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, which is committed to providing a range of nationally established standards of care for quality cancer treatment," says Finnigan. Only 30 percent of hospitals nationwide receive this designation. Finnigan is proud of the hard-working individuals at the Solari Center. "Our Infusion Center staff is known for its expertise, teamwork, and compassion—they consistently receive top scores for patient experience," she says. "New patients have told me that they were expecting the Katz Cancer Resource Center to be a sad place. But, they have found it to be bright and cheery. We work as a team to humanize the cancer experience through patient-centered care." Details: The Katz Cancer Resource Center is inside of the Mary & Richard Solari Cancer Center 3150 Mission Drive, First Floor, Santa Cruz, 831- 462-7770, dignityhealth. org/bayarea/locations/ dominican/services/ cancer-care/katz-cancer- resource-center Hours: Monday though Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Other Resources included in article: Teen Kitchen Project, teenkitchenproject.org WomenCARE, womencaresantacruz.org Kathy Finnigan, Outpatient Oncology Services Director From left to right: Jenna Norvell, Renee Aispuro-Gonzalez, Aida Carson, Debbie Reed, Allison Brookes. photography by Kevin Painchaud Advertising Supplement by Tara Fatemi Walker c a n c e r a w a r e n e s s Jane Clemens

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