Children who are treated at The Valerie Fund Children's Centers receive comprehensive health care. This not only includes state-of-the-art medical care, but the care of the patient's mental and emotional well-being. From diagnosis to well after treatment has ended, The Valerie Fund Center's multidisciplinary team identifies and treats the physical and emotional effects that manifest in pediatric patients. Psychological effects can include changes in attitude and behavior, breakdown in interpersonal relationships, depression and anxiety.
Psychological services are provided at four of The Valerie Fund Children's Centers. These services are led by, Dr. Heather Ginter at Goryeb Children's Hosptial, Dr. Caridad Moreno at Newark Beth Israel, Dr. Natalie Nageeb at Children's Hosptial of Philadelphia at Voorhees and new to The Valerie Fund family, Dr. Marie Barnett at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital.
These services are possible because of the generous support of the Steven and Beverly Rubenstein Charitable Family Foundation Psychology Program. In 2015, on-site psychology services were provided to more than 100 patients and parents (467 individual visits) at two of the four Centers. The Valerie Fund is halfway through a five-year strategic plan aimed to increase and improve the impact we have on the children and families treated at our Centers.
Dr. Heather Ginter with a Valerie Fund patient
Dr. Heather Ginter said, "Providing an in-house service to our families that was previously unavailable to them and sometimes difficult to attain has been the biggest impact on the patient community."
Throughout their treatment, Valerie Fund patients work with a psychologist who is responsible for coordinating different coping strategies such as, parent, sibling and family counseling, and parent support groups. The Valerie Fund psychologists work with each patient, and their family, to ensure that they are receiving the proper mental health services. These services are based on each family's resilience and the patient's psychological burden.
Additionally, bringing neuropsychological testing into the Centers means testing can be administered to patients needs even before treatment begins and the cost, approximately $5,000 per child is covered. Neuropsychological evaluations are designed to assess which patients transitioning back to school after a long absence may benefit from personal education plans, remedial intervention and other therapeutic services. Testing can also reveal academic or emotional struggles that occur well after treatment has ended.
Dr. Natalie Nageeb with a Valerie Fund patient
Dr. Natalie Nageeb said, "The Valerie Fund has made it possible for me to reach families and educate them on what psychosocial services can offer them. Psychology has held a long-standing unfortunate stigma regarding therapy and what "needing therapy" implies."
Dr. Marie Barnett with a Valerie Fund patient
Dr. Marie Barnett understands that treatment is a learning opportunity for both the patient and the doctor. Not only are the psychologists there to help a patient and their family cope, but to help the family understand what their "new normal" is. "The best part of my job is learning from my patients and their families. Perhaps most significantly, I have learned that cancer is, in many ways, not a disease to be "cured," but becomes an indelible part of a patient and family's life."
Dr. Caridad Moreno with a Valerie Fund patient
Having a psychologist available to children in the same setting where they are receiving medical treatment provides comfort and relief to their families. Dr. Caridad Moreno said, "Families experience a great sense of relief just knowing that a psychologist is available to attend to their children in the event that they present with emotional, social, cognitive and/or difficulties coping in connection with their condition or treatment."
After their nine-year-old daughter Valerie succumbed to cancer in 1976, Sue and Ed Goldstein were determined that no family should have to travel great distances to receive state-of-the-art medical care. Today, more than 6,000 children with cancer and blood disorders benefit immeasurably by receiving their medical treatment close to home in a child-centered environment. The Valerie Fund ensures they do not have to rely on insurance reimbursements to receive a range of customized therapeutic services that enhance their quality of life. For more information, please visit www.thevaleriefund.org.