Patrick Meadors, PhD, LMFT
Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Cancer Institute continues to expand access to care throughout the region by offering virtual support groups for patients with bladder cancer, and, most recently, head and neck cancers. The unique model of these support groups is connecting patients located in rural communities with social workers, nurses and other patients located across the Institute’s network of cancer centers in North and South Carolina.
“Levine Cancer Institute is committed to providing ‘cancer care without walls,’” said Patrick Meadors, PhD, LMFT, Psychosocial Oncology Manager at the Institute. “A virtual videoconferencing support group allows patients to bridge geographical distances, meet other patients with similar diagnoses, give and receive support from patients and facilitators, and have access to expert physicians and interdisciplinary clinicians across the Institute’s network in North and South Carolina.”
Hosting support groups virtually exemplifies the Institute’s belief that a patient’s geographical location should not determine how they receive cancer care. “Many rural communities don’t have the population or personnel to implement support groups for various cancer diagnoses and this group model will help address this gap,” said Dr. Meadors.
The virtual bladder cancer support group was piloted in June 2013. Eventually, the virtual support group model will expand to include other cancer diagnoses and symptom management. Currently, virtual support groups are held once a month at nine of the Institute’s locations, including Carolinas HealthCare System Stanly and Roper St. Francis Health System in Charleston, S.C.
Any cancer patient, their spouse or caregiver is able to attend the group, regardless of where they are in the treatment or survivorship continuum.
The bladder cancer support groups are currently offered on the second Tuesday of each month, from 1:30 to 3 p.m., and the head and neck cancer support groups are held on the first Tuesday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m.