Ohio State Cancer Team Named Finalist for National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year Award

September 28, 2016
NCCY Crystal and Patient

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The multidisciplinary Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) team at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (The James) has received national recognition for its compassionate care model as one of six finalists from across the United States for the 2016 National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year (NCCY) Award. The James is part of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center serving central and southern Ohio.

The honor is bestowed annually by The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare to celebrate excellence in compassionate healthcare. Since 1999, the Schwartz Center has honored outstanding healthcare professionals who display extraordinary devotion and compassion in caring for patients and families. The James MICU is the first team (versus individual caregiver) to be named a finalist in this national recognition program.

“The team spirit in Ohio State’s cancer MICU was seamless and we were privileged to experience this outstanding care,” said a former patient’s spouse in a NCCY Award nomination letter. “Not only did they save my husband’s life, but they did it as an outstanding and multi-layered team. We will never forget the truly astonishing and heart-filled care that we experienced in the MICU.”  

Relationship-Based Care at Ohio State’s Cancer Hospital

The James MICU team was nominated for its model of relationship-based care, which is based on four crucial relationships: patients and families, colleagues, community and self. The 30-bed unit cares exclusively for critically ill cancer patients. The unit was formed in December 2014 in conjunction with the institution’s transition into a new 21-floor, 1.1 million square foot cancer hospital.

The oncology intensive care setting challenging place to work – staff members are faced daily with patients (and families) in their most fragile moments. In the first 18 months operating as a unit, The James MICU learned that compassionate care is not only the grand gestures: it also involves smaller gestures that may otherwise go unnoticed but matter immensely to an individual in a time of medical fragility.

Things like painting the toenails of a 19-year-old girl when Dad doesn’t like the color; turning a pillow to the cool side for an elderly patient transitioning to comfort care; holding the hand of a young man to calm his fears of being intubated; singing Elvis songs with a patient who has dementia to help overcome respiratory failure; or setting up a video chat for a young mother to see and talk to her children at home.

“Our team’s technical capabilities are truly exceptional but what I am most proud of is the caring this team provides to each and every patient and family on their unit,” said Jamie Tippett, MS, RN, NEA-BC, assistant chief nursing officer for The James. “They also take care of one another, which is especially important in a unit that deals with critically ill patients every single day. Our staff experiences the intensity of the up-and-down nature of critical care alongside our patients and families. That care often shifts from life-prolonging intensive care to end-of-life comfort care. By committing to care for oneself and each other while also caring for our patients our team is able to better battle the compassion fatigue that is so common in a 24/7 care setting that requires constant vigilance.”

NCCY nurse and older gentleman 43WEB

As part of the relationship-based care model, The James MICU team has formed a core team of staff that champions the creation of a caring and healing intensive care environment. This includes a comfort closet stocked with handmade fleece blankets, remembrance items, grief literature, personal care products and other items for patients and families in the unit. Patient advocates proactively round on the oncology MICU daily to answer patient/family questions; the patient experience department provides activities in waiting room during weekdays and offers both evening and weekend art and music therapy programming to support ICU families.

“While our cancer MICU team demonstrates the utmost commitment to compassionate patient care, they also mastered the art of listening, understanding the complex emotions they experience as caretakers and working together to support each other in providing exceptional care,” says Michael Caligiuri, MD, director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. “Their commitment to compassionate care is remarkable and serves as a model for other units across the entire cancer hospital.”

The NCCY Award

NCCY Award finalists are chosen by a national review committee, which includes past award recipients, in collaboration with representatives from the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association. Nominees are selected for making a profound difference through their unmatched dedication to compassionate, collaborative care.

The 2016 award recipient will be announced on Nov. 15, 2016 at the 21st Annual Kenneth B. Schwartz Compassionate Healthcare Dinner in Boston. More than 2,000 healthcare leaders, caregivers and patients are expected to attend.

More information about the award is available at theschwartzcenter.org/award.

About the OSUCCC – James

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 49 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only four centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. As the cancer program’s 308-bed adult patient-care component, The James is one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and has achieved Magnet designation, the highest honor an organization can receive for quality patient care and professional nursing practice. At 21 floors with more than 1.1 million square feet, The James is a transformational facility that fosters collaboration and integration of cancer research and clinical cancer care.

Media Contact:
Amanda J. Harper
OSUCCC – James Media Relations

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