Q & A With Holly Gautier, RN, Program Manager of the Cancer Supportive Care Program

Holly Gatier, RN, Stanford Cancer CenterHolly Gautier, RN, Program Manager of Stanford Hospital Cancer Supportive Care Program, is a familiar presence at the Stanford Cancer Center. She is a source of support to patients, families and staff alike at the Cancer Center, and is always available to provide guidance and a helping hand. Gautier coordinates the various programs offered based on patient and family needs and works with community support groups to provide a wide range of available programs. The Stanford Cancer Supportive Care Programs are offered free of charge not only to patients, families and caregivers of the Stanford Cancer Center, but to those of the community as well.

Question: How did you get involved with the Cancer Supportive Care Program?
Gautier: I was brought to Stanford Hospital & Clinics by Dr. David Spiegel in 2000 to develop the Cancer Supportive Care Program, which became part of the Guest Services Department when the new Cancer Center first opened in 2004. Creating the program was a collaborative effort between Cancer Center Administration, Barbara Ralston in the Guest Services Department and myself; and was driven by our commitment to excellent patient care.

Question: What is the goal of the Cancer Supportive Care Program?
Gautier:The Cancer Supportive Care Program is a dynamic program that is focused on providing those affected by the diagnosis of cancer education, psychological and spiritual support to improve quality of life. Our programs are designed to promote healing and wellness, assist the patient and family through the cancer care continuum, simplify the treatment process and the efficiency and ease of communication among the healthcare experts. We are here to assist with any and all requests our guests may have.

Question: What makes the Cancer Supportive Care Program unique?
Gautier: Our focus is to exceed expectations, anticipate needs and provide excellent customer service with a comprehensive approach to heal the mind, body and spirit. We want patients to feel safe, cared for, and to feel confident that we are here for them no matter what they may need. We follow the Stanford Hospital standard of providing not only state-of-the-art medical care but also the highest quality of patient care – and that means healing the mind and spirit, along with physical ailments. You see this in the warm and welcoming architecture of the Cancer Center itself, and through the actions of our volunteers and staff. We are here to provide the patients with a feeling of hope, trust and healing. Every day I have patients who say that even though coming to the Stanford Cancer Center may not have been their choice, being here feels like home and they know that everyone is working hard for them to have the best experience possible – we play a key role in providing that ambience.

Question: What types of services are offered through the Cancer Supportive Care Program?
Gautier: Our staff is ready to greet everyone who enters the Cancer Center. When they arrive for their first appointment, a Navigator is there to greet them, help them find the location of their appointment and provides them with a Patient Treatment Organizer. (A personalized booklet to document their individual treatment plan, the Patient Treatment Organizer includes a calendar for their appointments, a journal, a space to save medical records, resource guides, and a place for business cards). If the patient is alone or needs assistance during an appointment, I will personally attend the appointment with them, take notes, and contact the family. The Cancer Supportive Care Program offers a large variety of services such as Pilates, nutrition consultation, Restorative Yoga, Nia technique exercise, Art for Health, Group Support, daily music programs, massage therapy and many support groups.  We also have a Smoking Cessation program, and a web-based six week program for survivors, called Healthy Living After Cancer, which teaches them how to move on with their lives after treatment and deal with the issues of fear of remission and uncertainty. We even offer a weekly energy healing Reiki session in our meditation room for our doctors and nurses.

Question: Can you tell me about the Cancer Navigation Services?
Gautier: Cancer Navigation Services was founded to assist our patients and families as they navigate to and from their various appointments, and to provide assistance with any and all requests. Our Navigators meet and greet the patients upon entrance to the Cancer Center and guide them to their various appointments, make sure they have all their documentation and any notes they need, sit and chat with them, provide companionship for those who come to their appointment alone, and really become a recognizable face and in many instances a friend to the patient and family. Our Navigators are volunteers who are here for several hours one to two times a week. Some have been touched by the diagnosis of cancer in some way and they can empathize with the challenges our patients and families face on a day to day basis. Some have medical backgrounds and find that volunteering allows them to give back and connect in a way they could not on a strictly medical level.

Question: How do the staff and volunteers keep their morale up?
Gautier: The managerial staff is always here as a resource, and the volunteers and navigation staff often find comfort and guidance from one another. Our job is to be proactive, help others overcome a very difficult time in their lives, and connect everyone with the resources they need to create a healing community, which in turn creates a network of support for the staff as well as the patients. Patients sometimes share with us their stories such as when they have won their fight against cancer, or they have overcome their fears of treatment, or they have chosen to deal with their diagnosis in a positive way; those are the moments that really keep us going. For me personally, getting a hug from a patient on their way in or out of the Cancer Center, forming those close relationships, or even just hearing them say thank you for the support we have provided, that is the ultimate re-fuel.

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