Just What the Doctor Ordered
"Being diagnosed with a serious illness is a life-altering experience. You can't go through it alone," said Anne P. O'Dea, MD, medical oncologist/hematologist at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. "That's why I refer my patients and their families to Turning Point. I know they will get the help they need."
Since 2001, Turning Point has served more than 75,000 people of all ages living with serious or chronic illnesses, as well as their families and friends. Whether the diagnosis is diabetes, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease, the Turning Point team is ready to assist.
Dr. O'Dea has seen patients benefit firsthand, and she's committed to spreading the word. "I'm not sure physicians and patients understand the depth and breadth of Turning Point," she said. For example, participants can choose from research-based classes, therapy groups or seminars. They can check out health-related reading materials. And they learn relevant skills that help them cope with their new normal.
"Turning Point even created a private puppet show for one of my patient's children," said Dr. O'Dea. "It helped the child understand what was happening to Mom – and it was amazing."
All Turning Point programs are free of charge and funded by generous philanthropy. A collaborative team of physicians, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, yoga professionals and others designs the curriculum and teaches the courses. Courses are open to anyone with serious or chronic illness.
"My patients appreciate that support is built into the classes," said Rhonda Cherry, case manager and social worker with the cancer center. "You can take a jewelry-making class and learn about relaxation. Or a cooking class that includes healthy eating tips."
Every class is focused on tangible ways to build resilience – ultimately reducing anxiety and depression. Participants learn skills that help them relieve stress, lower blood pressure, lose weight and minimize chronic pain. "Simply connecting with people who share similar life experiences is good medicine," said Cherry.
Dr. O'Dea has witnessed even more dramatic results. "I had a patient who refused to get treatment because she didn't want to put her spouse and young children through it. After meeting with the Turning Point staff, she realized she wasn't in this alone and was able to get through her treatment."
See for yourself
It is difficult to understand the compassion and the impact participants feel without experiencing it firsthand at Turning Point. They are greeted by friendly staff, colorful wall art, cozy furnishings, quiet spaces, a resource library, and exercise and meeting rooms.
"I encourage all healthcare professionals to take a tour," suggested Cherry. "Look at the calendar and circle relevant class. One small suggestion to a patient or family member could make a big difference. You'll be helping them stay active and engaged in life."