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Three social workers team up with doctors, nurses and other caregivers to help oncology patients navigate their journey at IU Health Simon Cancer Center.
Together they bring more than two decades of experience to IU Health - three social workers - each focusing on the individual needs of their patients.
They are part of a larger care team recognizing that a diagnosis involves healing beyond a disease. They are there to provide assistance with counseling, lodging, transportation, family support, financial/insurance, and legal aid. They also encourage patients to focus on their own strength, abilities and interests.
Janet Hoyer became a social worker because she wanted to help reduce patients’ stress and improve their quality of life.
“By providing resources and connecting people to services, we help make this difficult, and often overwhelming time, a little easier. A gas card or a stay in one of the foundation houses can make the difference between patients making it to their appointments or not,” said Hoyer who has been with IU Health for four years.
Melissa Renbarger, who has also been with IU Health for four years, likes working with a team. “One of the things I like best about my role is being a part of such a specialized medical oncology team to provide support services to our patients, families, and caregivers,” said Renbarger.
“Having emotional support can help people feel they are not alone in this. This is exactly what I had hoped to do by going into social work,” said Diane Monceski who has been with IU Health for 15 years.
The trio was recently recognized as the IU Health Simon Cancer Center “Team of the Year,” based on their personalized patient care. The nominator said: "All three social workers go above and beyond to ensure patients are receiving the personalized care and support they need during their cancer journey. They make themselves available to meet patients where they are - whether that be in a crisis or addressing day-to-day concerns of cancer - they are available to help not only patients and their loved ones, but also staff. The social workers have an ‘open door policy’ and will step in when requested or when they see someone in need.
Each social worker has a primary area to provide coverage and support to team members; co-workers say Hoyer, Renbarger, and Monceski communicate openly with each other and with physicians, nurse coordinators, patients and caregivers. All three serve as facilitators for Cancer Support Groups coordinated by the Cancer Resource Center & CompleteLife Program. The groups meet on the first Monday of every month in the Simon Cancer Pavilion with dinner provided from 5-6 p.m. followed by group meetings from 6-7:30 p.m.
-- By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health. Reach Banes via email email@example.com.