Hospital becomes a ‘star’ with cancer program

Greenwich Hospital is shining bright with its recently launched Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation (STAR) Program for cancer patients.

The program’s official launch event, held in the hospital’s Noble Conference Center, featured guest speaker and STAR program developer Julie Silver, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and cancer survivor. The event was attended by oncologists, physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dietitians and other medical professionals.

In addition, 28 STAR-certified professions were recognized for attaining certification on their own time.

In fall 2012, the hospital’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Oncology services departments, along with clinicians and providers from other clinical disciplines began training in the Massachusetts-based Oncology Rehab Partners’ STAR certification program. Oncology Rehab Partners is a leading expert in the field of survivorship care, and certification uniquely qualifies facilities like Greenwich Hospital to offer premium oncology rehabilitation services to survivors suffering the sometimes debilitating side effects of cancer treatment.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, of 163 participants with metastatic breast cancer, 92% had at least one physical impairment. The study also found that more than 90% of cancer patients need rehabilitation, but less than 30% receive it.

“We need to get many more cancer patients into rehab sooner, when their impairments are not so severe,” said Dr. Silver. “It has to be integrated into the cancer care continuum to improve outcomes.”

The STAR certification process, which combines conventional medicine and an evidence-based standardized model of cancer rehabilitation service delivery, focuses on training, implementation, outcomes, recertification and continuing education. STAR-certified specialty caregivers work together to develop personalized rehabilitation plans for each patient to increase strength and energy, alleviate pain and improve daily function and quality of life.

According to Ronald Ponchak, director of Greenwich Hospital Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, cancer rehabilitation services are a critical component of cancer care and survivorship plans, because they can significantly improve quality of life for patients under treatment, in remission or living with the disease.

“Although surviving cancer is more common today, as medical interventions and treatments have advanced, the majority of cancer survivors fail to return to previous levels of normal activity and function due to the toll of their fight against the disease,” he said. “This certification provides our clinicians with a proven program to deliver excellent cancer rehabilitation care.”

The STAR Program at Greenwich Hospital is supported by a gift from Rose-Marie and Jack R. Anderson.

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