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Patients tell me that they notice how well we communicate. Sandra Johnson, PCA

“The beautiful part about our group is that we are completely team-oriented,” says Maggie Zampano, RN, OCN, describing the multidisciplinary care provided in the Gynecologic Oncology Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. On a dedicated wing in Smilow, which accommodates up to 28 patients, she and a diverse team of other specialists join forces in the treatment of women with gynecological cancer. “We care for women after they have surgery at Smilow, as well as those who come here for post-operative chemotherapy.”

Zampano and her fellow oncology nurses begin each day by attending an early-morning meeting with other members of the oncology team—physicians, pharmacists, residents, social workers, care coordinators and business associates—to review each patient’s status and everyone’s assignments. A group of PCAs, or

patient care associates, also are instrumental in the daily routine. “The PCAs go over notes left by the previous night’s nurses about patients’ various needs and concerns,” says Sandra Johnson, a PCA and 23-year employee at YNHH.

The patient-centered care practiced in this unit exemplifies the personalized cancer therapy that is the guiding principle at Smilow, which recognizes that each patient—and his or her cancer—is unique and requires individualized treatment. This is demonstrated in the Gynecologic Oncology Program’s multidisciplinary focus that extends to the tumor board, held weekly in concert with radiation oncology and pathology. Each patient’s case is reviewed, and therapeutic decisions are made by a panel of experts in gynecologic malignancy diagnosis and management.

“It takes a couple of bright and courageous leaders to run such a wonderful ship,” Zampano says, praising the management and clinical skills of Thomas Rutherford, MD, PhD, Yale-New Haven’s section chief of gynecologic oncology, and Tracy Carafeno, RN, MS, the hospital’s patient service manager for women’s services and surgical oncology. “What they expect of us and how they interact with the entire team, as well as the patients,

makes us all want to do well. They embody Yale-New Haven’s commitment to patient satisfaction.”

Johnson regularly sees that team spirit reflected throughout her daily routine. “When I’m in the rooms, patients will tell me that they notice how well we communicate, and that it makes them feel safe and comfortable.”

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