NCI and ASCO Develop Disaster Wallet Card for Gulf Coast Cancer Patients
NCI and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) have developed a wallet card that is being piloted with oncologists in the Gulf Coast states. The wallet card guides displaced cancer patients to ASCO's patient information Web site and NCI's Cancer Information Service (CIS) national toll-free number (1-800-4-CANCER), LiveHelp instant messaging service, and e-mail service available at www.cancer.gov/help.
Using this nationwide electronic and telecommunication infrastructure, patients and physicians can access and share information in the event of a disaster. The card also provides space to write the patient's name, diagnosis, and treatment to communicate vital information to health care providers.
"Connecting patients from all over the country to cancer information and clinical trials is what NCI's CIS does every day," said Madeline La Porta, former deputy director of CIS and current associate director of the Office of Dissemination, Initiatives, and Partnerships in NCI's Office of Communications and Education. "Our collaboration with ASCO will help reconnect displaced patients and doctors after a natural disaster so they can get the information they need."
This collaboration builds upon a successful partnership in 2005 in response to the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. NCI and ASCO worked closely to provide the toll-free CIS phone number and Web-based resources to help displaced doctors and their cancer patients contact each other to ensure continued care.
"Continuity of care is crucial to the health and well-being of people with cancer," said ASCO President Dr. Nancy E. Davidson. "ASCO is pleased to partner with NCI to ensure that people with cancer across the United States can access the high-quality care that they need, no matter what the circumstance."
Before developing the card, ASCO conducted a formative evaluation of the concept and prototype of the wallet card among oncologists and oncology nurses who attended the Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress, the ASCO Annual Meeting, and an ASCO Committee Meeting. ASCO staff reported that all of the attendees surveyed at their annual meeting agreed that such a resource would be valuable for their patients.
The card will be piloted over the next year to include the 2008 hurricane season with oncologists in the Gulf Coast states. An evaluation of the pilot will help determine whether the program is expanded to cover other geographic areas or other potential disasters.
"When I received the e-mail about this program, I was very excited," says Coleen Booker, a registered nurse and coordinator for the GI Oncology Center at the University of Florida Shands Cancer Center in Gainesville. She recalls how after Hurricane Katrina, cancer patients from New Orleans came to Florida. Their medical records had been destroyed, and sometimes the patients didn't know how to spell their doctor's name, making it difficult to determine their true diagnosis, medical history, and best course of treatment. "But it's not just about catastrophes," she says. "With this program, if people come to Florida on vacation or as snowbirds to live for half of the year, these cards will make it much easier for us to help them."
Oncology practices in the Gulf States can order copies of the card by calling CIS at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). Quantities may be limited.
—Brittany Moya del Pino