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By Richard Asinof
WARWICK – Kent Hospital held an open house on March 23 to kick off its new cancer rehabilitation program, after earning certification in the Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation (STAR) Program from the Massachusetts-based Oncology Rehab Partners.
The program is being underwritten by a grant from the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. Oncology Rehab Partners founder Dr. Julie Silver, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and cancer survivor, praised Kent Hospital’s efforts to make “survivorship a priority.”
Women & Infants Hospital, also a Care New England Hospital, is currently undergoing training for STAR certification.
Under the program, part of a statewide initiative currently underway in Rhode Island, the goal is to make cancer rehabilitation the standard of care for survivors. “This is the rehabilitation which brings the patient back to the fullest life possible with maximum function. And, this life may be even better, more healthful, than the pre-cancerous lifestyle,” said Dr. John Carbon who is a physiatrist, or rehabilitation physician, specializing in physical medicine rehabilitation at Kent.
“Life after cancer and cancer treatment no longer has to mean a diminished quality of life,” said Dr. Candace Dyer, physician director of The Breast Health Center at Kent.
Under the new program, which will conducted as an outpatient service, specialty caregivers from a pool of disciplines – including physicians, physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dieticians, and mental health professionals – will work together with each patient on a personalized rehabilitation plan. The goal is to increase strength and energy, alleviate pain, and improve daily function and quality of life, according to hospital officials.
Insurance reimbursement and coverage is determined by which health insurance company and coverage a patient has, according to Jim Beardsworth, director of marketing and public relations at Kent. “Most insurances cover the physical, occupational and speech therapy,” he said, explaining that the hospital’s outpatient verifies with the health insurer first and then relays cost, if any, to the patient prior to an appointment.