DOVER — The staff of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital provides one-stop care for patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, hoping to reduce their stress and anxiety.
The multidisciplinary clinic offered by Wentworth-Douglass allows for the rationalization of care, by having all the necessary treatments coordinated by a single entity. With a team coordinating all care, giving the patient a comprehensive plan of action, doctors say the stress that often accompanies cancer care is greatly reduced.
Dr. David Coppola, Medical Director of Surgical Oncology and Medical Director of General Surgery, said breast cancer care is close to her heart and has been the focus of her more than 25 years of care. against cancer. He said at Wentworth-Douglass they looked at how they provide breast cancer care and how they can improve. One of the results was the organization of the clinic, in 2020.
“Even if all the appointments are made here, I wouldn’t say the bounty is necessarily a time saver,” Coppola said. “I think we spare our patients the anxiety and uncertainty of – what comes next? For most, surgery is the first line of treatment. Then some people need chemo, some people don’t. Some need radiation therapy. The best part is here, all those questions are answered, mostly in one visit.”
When a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, she may be referred to the clinic, in part due to the complexity of the case. Coppola said he sees about three patients a day because the appointments are much longer than a regular doctor’s visit.
“Patients are told to arrive at 8:30 a.m. and expect to be here until about 11:30 a.m.,” Coppola said. “The care is the same but the entire medical, social and financial team is there for appointments. Imaging, pathology, nursing, social and financial work are all there to help support the patient and guide her through care. .”
Nurse navigator Heather Lynch said the clinic and its staff served as the point of care for the patient.
“We support them, guide them through the process,” Lynch said. “We work closely with the patient and with the providers. The patient knows all the way through the process. I believe the power of knowledge helps alleviate their stress related to the process of their care.”
“A patient can come in and see three doctors in one day, radiological, medical and surgical,” said Adrienne Coleman, director of business operations for Seacoast Cancer Center. “Here we support the patient clinically, emotionally and financially. We work with them for their insurance or other financial plans. We take on the burden of it all, so the patient can focus on their recovery.”
Before seeing a patient, Coppola said the whole team sits down and goes over all aspects of the case to decide the best treatment for each person.
“They receive an individualized plan,” he said. “The modality of cancer care has changed and we now know that there is no one size fits all. In the past, some patients were overtreated, others maybe undertreated. Now we look at every person and their needs.
Coppola said breast cancer care, a passion for the team, is constantly evolving.
“In early 2023, I’m happy to say that we will be opening a high-risk breast clinic at our Pease Breast Center,” he said. “As we identify women at high risk for breast cancer, we will discuss with them the possibility of modifying the regularity of surveillance. We can work on risk reduction strategies that they could adopt. We are already beginning to identify patients and will contact them. Every day, as we learn new things, we are looking for ways to benefit our community.