Our Stories

Navigation at the Providence Cancer Center

Perhaps you know them. They’re like many Alaskans, doing the best they can, living paycheck to paycheck. Never expecting the impact an illness like cancer will have on their lives.
 
By the time he was finally admitted to Providence hospital, he was very seriously ill with advanced cancer. When we met, her tears flowed. Overwhelmed, fear was visible on their faces. Uninsured, bills rising, not able to return to work – what could they do? Our Navigation Team arrived to assist in the transition to outpatient cancer care, making each step of the way easier.
 
We met daily while he was receiving Radiation Therapy, facing concerns one by one. Our focus was on easing their worry and calming their fears. As we tapped into community resources to keep their lights on and prevent eviction, the insurmountable challenges suddenly became easier. A donated hospital bed, wheelchair, and oxygen tank brought comfort when he needed it most.
 
As our compassionate relationship continued to support this family, we invited in hospice at just the right time, so he could spend his days at peace, surrounded by those he loved.
 

Family Support Services at The Children’s Hospital at Providence

 
What makes a hospital a Children’s Hospital?
Excellent care, a nurturing space and special people like Patient and Parent Navigators, Child Life Specialists, and teachers who assist in providing the highest level of pediatric care at The Children’s Hospital at Providence; they are Family Support Services. Because these services are not included in a hospital bill, they depend on community support.
 
Child life specialists
Child life specialists are experts in child development. They promote effective coping through play, preparation, education and self expression activities.
 
"My interest in becoming a Child Life Specialist began when my Younger brother had neurosurgery and throughout that hospital journey there was no one who was able to provide comfort, reassurance or explanations for me and my family. From this experience, I wanted to help other families who are facing similar situations."

- Hadley Anderson, originally from Broomfield, CO.

 
"One of the biggest questions I get is, “How do you do what you do?” Well, that’s easy because everyday my heart smiles to see what these small little children and their families can teach me."

- Jennifer Bugenhagen, originally from Alden, IL.

 
"After volunteering at Denver Children’s Hospital, I knew I wanted to work in the medical field. I really enjoyed helping children and their families cope with traumatic experiences so Child Life was a natural fit."

- Bonnie Hiers, originally from Littleton, CO.

 
CoolGuard
New technology enhances neurological care and recovery for cardiac arrest patients.  Recently,  donations to the Providence Alaska Foundation supported the purchase of a CoolGuard machine for the Adult Critical Care Unit at Providence Alaska Medical Center. The new CoolGuard machine makes a difference in the lives of patients by starting an immediate internal cooling process following a heart attack.
Here’s how CoolGuard works. Someone is at home enjoying a quiet weekend with family. They begin to feel chest pain, CPR is started and 911 is called. The individual is rushed to the Providence Emergency Department. Once admitted to Adult Critical Care, they are connected to the CoolGuard machine. By controlling a patient’s internal temperature using CoolGuard, caregivers can significantly improve survival rate and neurological recovery.
 
Thank you, Taco Bell
Taco Bell in Alaska helped raise more than $45,000 statewide to support the Providence Cancer Center. And in the past four years, Taco Bell, its employees and customers have contributed more than $100,000. Through the sale of Dee Dee Jonrowe paper dog icons, Taco Bell has touched many lives in Alaska. Providence Cancer Center provides state-of-the art technology and care delivered by compassionate and dedicated physicians and professionals. Philanthropy was instrumental in opening the Cancer Center in December 2002 and continues to play a critical role in providing access to services and resources.
 
“As a corporate citizen, it is our belief to give back to the communities where we do business.”

– Dale Martens, Denali Foods dba Taco Bell Alaska

 
Cancer Center Patient Navigators
The Patient Navigation program at the Providence Cancer Center recognizes the impact of cancer on an individual and their family.  Our Navigation team strives to empower all to live well through compassion, education, resources and hope. Navigators assist patients from the initial diagnosis forward, helping them to identify needs, locate services and answer questions. Navigators ease the burden, bringing light and hope to an individual’s cancer journey. There is no charge for navigation services at Providence. Services are entirely supported by philanthropy.
 
“When I first meet with a patient and their loved ones to welcome them, I’ll say, ‘Let me introduce you to the Cancer Center resources here to help you make this experience easier’... and our journey begins.”

– Marie Lavigne, Patient Navigator, Providence Cancer Center

 
Free breast cancer screenings for 202 women
We all know that early detection saves lives. But what about women who do not have insurance to cover the cost of a mammogram? During four days in May, 202 women in Anchorage were screened for breast cancer. The screenings were free to uninsured or underinsured women throughout our  community. What made these screenings a success? Funding from Carrs/Safeway, its customers and its employees covered the nearly $90,000 for outreach, the cost of the screenings and the cost of radiologists reading the results. Additionally, physicians, physician fellows and nurse practitioners  donated their time, along with Providence employee volunteers who helped during the screenings. Of the 202 women screened, 19 were referred for diagnostic mammography.
 
“This year we are happy to report that zero cases of cancer were detected,” said Shelley Coolidge, nurse coordinator with Providence Imaging Center, “and 157 of the women screened were enrolled in Alaska’s Breast and Cervical Health Check (BCHC) program. Forty-seven had no primary care provider and were  linked to ongoing health care, primarily through Providence Family Medical Center.”
 
The collaborative efforts of all of our donors, including those who gave at the Carrs/Safeway checkout line, Providence Imaging Center and Alaska’s Breast and Cervical Health Check program, have made a significant difference in the lives of Alaska women.
 
Telemedicine support launches in rural Alaska
During Alaska’s harsh winters, patients in critical condition on Kodiak Island often face the grim reality that weather could prevent a medevac to Anchorage. Now, these same patients need not worry about reaching the state’s best critical care experts, thanks to donations to the Providence Alaska Foundation.
 
This month, the Foundation’s board of directors approved financing of the first eICU unit for the Providence Kodiak Island Medical Centers emergency department. The new eICU will provide real-time remote monitoring of patients by a team of critical care physicians and nurses — 24 hours a day. Working from the Providence Health Park in Anchorage, the eICU team can monitor Kodiak patients’ vital signs and provide intensivist level patient care, meaning fewer LifeMed transports and enhanced patient outcomes. Thank you to all who donated to the Area of Greatest Need Fund. Your generous contribution is saving lives in Kodiak and beyond.
 
Nurturing the spirit
“At Providence, our ministry mirrors the diversity of the patients that we serve,” said the Rev. Frank Mächt, manager of Spiritual Care and Clinical Pastoral Education at Providence Alaska Medical Center, “and we are fortunate to be able to focus on nourishing our patients’ sense of spirituality.” As the only chaplain residency program in the state of Alaska, Providence’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program aims to develop the skills of certified chaplains who provide pastoral care and counseling to the diverse patient population at Providence.
 
Gifts to the Foundation helped launch the program nearly four years ago, and donations continue to enhance the program. Students in the CPE program are members of the hospital’s Spiritual Care Department and function as chaplains. Students provide bedside ministry to patients and their loved ones, participate in an on-call rotation for weekday night and weekend crisis ministry and work on interdisciplinary care teams.
 
This September, under the direction of the Rev. Mächt, Providence welcomed seven new residents into the CPE program.  Six of the residents will serve Providence Alaska Medical Center, and one resident will serve Providence Extended Care Center.
 
Seeing the impact firsthand: Dr. John Halligan
Just one look around the Providence Cancer Center reminds Dr. John Halligan of the many patients that he sees each year who are being treated for cancer. “I support the Providence Alaska Foundation and the Patient Navigator and compassionate care programs because my patients’ care does not stop after they leave my office,” said Dr. Halligan, a radiation oncologist.“I hope that my financial support will ease the stress and frustrations that cancer patients and their families feel and together we can focus on fighting this terrible disease.”