Due to the enormous impact a cancer diagnosis has in the life of a patient and his or her family, a team of social workers is an integral part of the cancer support services offered by the Cancer Center at MCH. A social worker is present when the family first meets with the physician to discuss the diagnosis and continues to play a supportive, clinical role throughout the child’s treatment. Social workers participate in weekly multidisciplinary meetings to review the care plan of each hospitalized child. Social workers also work individually with patients, parents, siblings and extended family members, assisting them in their adjustment process to illness and hospitalization. When indicated, social workers consult closely with psychiatrists and behavioral medicine specialists for additional clinical interventions. The social work team facilitates diverse parent support groups and refers families for other cancer support services, such as financial, housing, transportation, day-care and bereavement-related services as needed.
Psychiatric and Psychological Services
Child and adolescent psychiatric consultation is part of an integrated, comprehensive evaluation of many hematology/oncology patients. Chronic pediatric illness of almost any kind with recurrent hospitalization is a psychological risk factor for children. The rate of psychiatric illness in children with both chronic medical conditions and disability is three times greater than non-compromised children. Every child with a pediatric illness requiring hospitalization experiences a psychological reaction. The degree of reaction varies with the developmental level and the level of function prior to illness, as well as the state and reaction of the family and the severity of the illness. The divisions of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at MCH offer individual therapy for the patient, family therapy and participate in the patient and family support groups.
Volunteer organizations are the lifeblood of any institution. Miami Children’s Hospital is fortunate to have the support of the United Order True Sisters, Miami #43, since 1958. This entity has a long tradition of providing support services to the patients of the MCH Cancer Center, including sponsorship of the annual summer cancer camp.
Annual Summer Camp and Celebrations
The annual summer camp is a dream come true for children with cancer and their families, providing a cancer support community. Participants enjoy typical summer activities while under the care of their Miami Children’s Hospital doctors and nurses, who serve as the camp counselors. The week-long sleep-away camp, which takes place at Miami-Dade County’s A.D. Barnes Park, is free and open to all MCH cancer patients. Activities include arts and crafts, sports and a variety of field trips, such as bowling, movies, a bayside cruise, a pool party, a two-day trip to Disney World and the extraordinary experience of swimming with dolphins. The camp, which was established in 1991, offers a cancer support community for patients and families and is sponsored by the United Order True Sisters, Miami #43.
A holiday party in December brings children with cancer together to celebrate the joys of the season with staff and friends and acquaintances from the hospital. A cancer survivor’s day celebration is held each June, with dozens of patients and their families in attendance.