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Putting Patients First

Recently Hospice East Bay admitted a patient in her early 60s who had been diagnosed with glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is an aggressive type of cancer that can occur in the brain or the spinal cord, and there is no cure for this disease. Only 25% of glioblastoma patients live more than one year after diagnosis.

When the patient met with her doctor, she chose to accept hospice services. When the Hospice East Bay team met with her and listened to her, they learned that, in her shock over the diagnosis, she had never explored other options besides hospice. At a nursing visit, the patient expressed interest in pursuing some clinical trials, and our hospice nurse encouraged her to pursue what felt right to her.

One week later, the Hospice East Bay nurse and social worker met with the patient and her spouse. They shared that they had spent a frustrating morning trying to navigate the evaluation process for the patient to possibly participate in a medical trial. The patient had been told she needed to “self-refer” to the programs and had been given four numbers to call. When she called each number, she was unable to connect with a live person and the instructions were confusing. They felt like no one really cared about her or her situation. The patient was very realistic. She knew that her condition was serious and was not expecting a cure, but she still wanted to participate in a medical trial to either help herself or help others in the future.

The social worker reached out to a Hospice East Bay physician who spoke to the patient and her husband over speaker phone. The doctor advised them to contact an oncology group for help and even provided a contact name and number. She told them she would text the oncologist herself to let them know to expect the patient’s call. After this telephone call with our doctor, the couple were visibly relieved, feeling like there might actually be a pathway toward the trial.

The next week at the nurse’s visit, the patient reported that she had met with the oncologist. She was scheduled to have an MRI done on 10/31, followed by neurosurgery on 11/2. That day she signed off hospice services, and the team referred her to Hospice East Bay’s Palliative Care program where she could continue to receive support on her journey.

The patient then took the time to write a note of thanks to her Hospice East Bay team for listening to her and supporting her choices. She also called Susan Levitt, Chief Operating Officer, to tell her story and express her gratitude that Hospice East Bay didn’t give up on her.

At Hospice East Bay, we put patients first. We support their choices and their goals for their lives. If we can help them reach those goals, we go the extra mile. Our mission is for every patient and family served by Hospice East Bay to know that they are not alone and that we are “here when you need us.”

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