The Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute: Patient Experience Reigns Supreme

Laura Bruck
Published: Monday, Nov 21, 2011
Taussig Cancer Institute

The Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute

The Cleveland Clinic has long been at the forefront of cutting-edge medicine and research. The center’s reputation as a world leader in a multitude of fields, including oncology, is undisputed, and it is consistently ranked as one of the top hospitals in America by US News & World Report.

Founded in 1921, the nonprofit, multispecialty academic medical center includes a main campus near downtown Cleveland with 1300 staffed beds, 9 community hospitals with an additional 3300 beds, and 15 Family Health Centers in Northeast Ohio. Cleveland Clinic also has outposts in Florida, Las Vegas, and Toronto, and it will open an outpost in Abu Dhabi in 2013.

With more than 250 cancer specialists treating some 26,000 patients each year, the Taussig Cancer Institute is one of 26 institutes at Cleveland Clinic that group together clinicians and scientists from multiple specialties. The result is a collaborative approach to care aimed at providing patients with the most effective diagnostic and therapeutic tools and techniques for achieving long-term survival and improved quality of life.

Brian J. Bolwell, MD

Brian J. Bolwell, MD

Brian J. Bolwell, MD, Cleveland Clinic’s vice chief of staff, former director of the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) unit, and newly appointed chairman of the Taussig Cancer Institute, acknowledged that a large institution known for its cutting-edge medical care can sometimes be perceived as cold when it comes to dealing with the emotional needs of its patients. With this in mind, Bolwell has made it his mission to ensure that Taussig, and indeed the entire Cleveland Clinic community, delivers its state-of-the-art care with an underlying patient-centric approach.

To this end, the Clinic is one of the nation’s first academic centers to have an Office of Patient Experience created to focus on and provide the resources needed to develop novel ways to address patient and family needs, shining a light on what Bolwell calls the patient experience.

Among the many examples of this patientcentric approach to care are Taussig’s new BMT Unit and Leukemia Floor, its Brain Tumor Support Group, and the CARES program.

Bone Marrow Transplant and Leukemia Floor

In August 2009, more than 100 Taussig Cancer Institute staff members attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of a new state-of-the-art BMT Unit and Leukemia Floor on the hospital’s main campus. Extensive renovations were carried out to convert what was once a cardiac unit to a 44-bed, 25,000-square-foot floor designed to meet the highly specialized medical and psychosocial needs of patients with hematologic malignancies. A rooftop laminar airflow apparatus provides continuous centralized air treatment, removing 99.98% of potential pollutants and allowing immunocompromised patients to move freely about the floor.

“Research, including that of the Clinic, has shown that the presence of a caregiver, usually a family member, actually improves survival after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation,” said Bolwell. “The new BMT Unit and Leukemia Floor is an example of the way in which we’ve tried to capitalize on this type of benefit.” The new floor was designed with a number of features intended to make family members feel welcome and comfortable, including sofas or reclining chairs in patient rooms, as well as private restrooms, showers, kitchenettes, and laundry facilities for family members— amenities that also help to safeguard the health of immunocompromised patients. The floor also has its own dedicated lab and is fully wired for telemetry.

The Patient-Centric Philosophy in Action

To date, Cleveland Clinic physicians have performed more than 3750 bone marrow transplants and tout some of the highest BMT survival rates in the world. The new floor has seen an influx of patients with hematologic malignancies requiring BMT; this has resulted in the creation of more than 50 new nursing positions.

As researchers strive to improve survival for patients with hematologic malignancies (see “Research Generates Hope”), patients deal with a lengthy list of varied and complex needs related not only to their physical condition, but to their emotional well-being as they battle their illness.

“Dealing with a patient’s emotional needs is a top priority for its own sake,” said Bolwell. “But there’s little doubt that a patient whose emotional needs are met is in a much better position to deal with the physical rigors of cancer and its treatments.”


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