SPRINGFIELD — When a patient suffers a stroke or has knee-replacement surgery, rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process. It is now recognized that rehabilitation services are equally important for cancer survivors, to help them recover from the effects of cancer treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy).
Mercy Medical Center is proud to announce that the Sr. Caritas Cancer Center and Weldon Outpatient Rehabilitation Services have earned STAR (Survivorship, Training and Rehabilitation) Program certification from the Massachusetts-based Oncology Rehab Partners, leading experts in the field of survivorship care. STAR Program certification uniquely qualifies facilities like Mercy Medical Center to offer nationally recognized cancer rehabilitation and survivorship services to patients who suffer from debilitating side effects caused by cancer treatments.
The healthcare services offered by the STAR program are covered by most insurance providers, including Medicare, and are provided by medical staff members who are specially trained to work with survivors of all forms of cancer.
The STAR program brings together specialty caregivers from a pool of disciplines, including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and others. In order to obtain STAR Program certification, each member of this group successfully completed a course of extensive training and testing.
“We have a skilled team of nearly 50 clinicians,” said Gale Mason, director of the Survivorship Program at Mercy Medical Center. “Our goal is to provide a personalized treatment plan that will increase the patient’s strength and energy, help alleviate pain, and improve their overall quality of life.”
“Our certified practitioners have received training in the best practices for addressing impairments that may arise in the course of cancer and its treatment, such as lymphedema and difficulty in swallowing,” said Jill Legates, director of Weldon Rehabilitation Services. “Once the patient identifies the specific challenges they continue to face, our team uses that information to determine the best course of action to minimize those symptoms by giving them the tools to manage their fatigue, control their pain, or help them improve their strength and energy level.”
The STAR Program was developed by Dr. Julie Silver, a cancer survivor and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School with expertise in rehabilitation medicine. Silver developed the STAR Program after going through her own cancer treatment and realizing that she needed rehabilitation in order to return to her former level of function. The program is being utilized in some of the top cancer centers in the country, and Mercy Medical Center is the first hospital in Western Mass. to gain certification.