Nancy’s Friends Fill the Hallways at LIJ Medical Center
Published in The New Standard, 2013
by April Sirianni
NEW HYDE PARK – Cancer patients are getting special TLC, courtesy of a recently launched LIJ Medical Center program. Called Nancy’s Friends, the program recruits and trains volunteers to provide companionship and supportive care while patients are in the hospital.
Among those to benefit is Branson Sparks, a medical student at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. About six months ago, he had trouble breathing and sought treatment with internal medicine specialist Jennifer Diane Verbsky, MD. Initially prescribed antibiotics, Mr. Sparks went to the LIJ Emergency Department (ED) when his condition worsened prior to his follow-up appointment. The ED doctors noticed fluid around Mr. Sparks’s lungs and spotted a mass under his breast bone. A biopsy determined it was cancer.
On LIJ Medical Center’s 9 South floor for chemotherapy treatments, Mr. Sparks spoke with excitement for Nancy’s Friends. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for oncology patients,” he said. “It can get lonely, and having Nancy’s Friends on the unit can improve the quality of patients’ lives.” Mr. Branson also relies on the support he gets from fellow medical students, administrators, faculty and staff. Following the discovery of three brain lesions, he is taking a year off from his studies to undergo a bone marrow transplant at the North Shore_LIJ Cancer Institute, performed by oncologist Ruthee-Lu Bayer, MD. He maintains a positive attitude, which is augmented by the support he gets from Nancy’s Friends.
The Nancy Klauber Forest Foundation honors the memory of Nancy Klauber Froest, whose dignity during treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma as well as kindness to her caregivers inspired the foundation’s mission.
“Having Nancy’s Friends in our hallways will build upon the strength of our current volunteer services here at LIJ,” said Chantal Weinhold, executive director at LIJ. “Based on studies, we know that dedicated support of this kind has a positive impact on treatment.” Funded through a variety of charity events, Nancy’s Friends provides such organized activities as crafts and holiday performances. Most recently, the Nancy Klauber Forest Foundation funded video game therapy equipment for 9 South.