5 Ways Premier Health Oncology Social Workers Help Cancer Patients 

A cancer diagnosis can be difficult to accept and deal with. Especially on top of other concerns you may already have.

Oncology Social Services of Premier Health helps patients and their families address these issues so they can focus on getting well, says Connie Ickes, LISW-S, oncology social worker for Premier Health.

Following are five ways Oncology Social Services helps:

Assess needs. “I start where the patient is,” Ickes says. “When I come into the room, I ask what’s on their mind and we identify the issues I can help them with.” Radiation and chemotherapy patients fill out a “distress tool,” rating from 1 to 10 their level of distress in areas such as finance and insurance, family support, emotional status, spiritual needs, physical problems and many others. “I meet with patients who score five or above,” she says.

Identify financial resources. “If I can help patients with financial concerns, they can focus on their treatment,” Ickes says. “Solving this issue often solves others.” Oncology social workers help patients and family understand Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance coverage. And they help find ways to fill coverage gaps — for instance, the 20 percent copay for outpatient chemotherapy not paid by Medicare Part B. Social workers like Ickes also connect eligible patients to financial assistance such as Ohio’s Hospital Assurance Program (HCAP) and a program that Premier Health offers for patients with family income up to four times the poverty level.

Offer supportive care. Oncology social workers refer patients to appropriate support groups — particularly if they lack a strong support system among family and friends. These include the Premier Health breast cancer support group at Miami Valley Hospital North , a prostate cancer support groupOff Site Icon offered by Dayton Physicians Network and Pink Ribbon GirlsOff Site Icon, an independent group that provides meals, housekeeping, transportation and peer support for patients undergoing treatment for breast and other women's reproductive cancers in the greater Cincinnati and Dayton areas.

Socials workers also provide supportive counseling to patients. However, if patients have mental health issues beyond the cancer diagnosis, such as a history of major depression or marriage issues, social workers will refer them to therapists.

Advocate for patients. Social workers help patients resolve issues that may interfere with getting the care they need. “If a cab arrives late for a patient’s chemotherapy appointment, I advocate for the patient to make that work better,” Ickes offers as an example. Or, she adds, when a patient’s employer denies a request for unpaid medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, a social worker may intervene with help from the American Cancer Society and Patient Advocate Foundation.

And oncology social workers help patients advocate for their health care wishes. This includes helping patients understand and complete advance health care directives such as a living will and durable power of attorney.

Refer patients to needed services. Oncology social workers use their connections with community service providers to help patients and their families access transportation, home-delivered meals, affordable housing and other necessities. Our social workers also connect patients and families with other health care resources within Premier Health.

Ickes concludes, “To a lot of patients, just knowing we are here to help is the biggest help.”

Source: Connie Ickes, LISW-S, Oncology Social Worker, Premier Health

Content Updated: August 16, 2018

These Premier Health locations offer Cancer Care Services.
Each location may offer different or additional services, so contact a location below to learn more about the specific services they offer.
200 Medical Center Dr. Fourth Floor Middletown, OH  45005
Looking for a specific department or phone number?
Visit one of the above locations for contact information, or browse the Premier Health Directory.
This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.