Biller Center: 5 years of patient-centered healing (w/VIDEO)

October 4, 2013 | by

Five years ago marked the opening of the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, unifying City of Hope's supportive care programs to better serve patients and caregivers. Half a decade later, the center and the integrated Department of Supportive Care Medicine have made major strides and become a national leader in the field of supportive cancer care.

"We are so incredibly excited about the fifth anniversary of the Biller Resource Center ... because it is built around what patients and family members told us they need," said Matthew J. Loscalzo, L.C.S.W., Liliane Elkins Endowed Professor in Supportive Care Programs and executive director of City of Hope's Department of Supportive Care Medicine.

"In five years, we have been able to transform the way patient-centered care is provided," Loscalzo said in the video above.

These accomplishments included:

  • The development of SupportScreen, a tablet-based application that gauges patients' supportive care needs and connects them with the appropriate experts, services and resources.
  • Two National Cancer Institute (NCI) grants to train other health professionals on how to develop screening and supportive care programs similar to those at City of Hope.
  • A first-of-its-kind partners' clinic that helps breast cancer patients and their partners communicate effectively and work together during and after treatment.

The work of the Biller Patient and Family ResourceCenter – and the couple behind it – is known far beyond Los Angeles.

Mike Flynn, the former editor and publisher of the Puget Sound Business Journal and now a consultant for entrepreneur and growing companies, recently wrote about that work on his blog Flynn’s Harp.

“In a healthcare world where breaking down traditional silos will be a key part of addressing the challenge of change that lies ahead, the hands-on philanthropy of a Seattle couple in their involvement with City of Hope has been the underpinning of two grants to provide training on the humanistic side of medicine.”

Loscalzo explained in an interview on the blog  not just the mission of the grants but also the role of Sheri and Les Biller in attracting the attention of the NCI.

“We would not have gotten these grants, at a time when very few grants are being funded, without the philanthropic and institutional partnership that exists between [City of Hope] and the Billers, who are very actively involved in the operations of the Center,” Loscalzo was quoted as saying. “Most institutions say to philanthropists, ‘we’re pleased to get your money, now please leave us alone.’ It doesn’t happen that way with [City of Hope] and the Billers.”

Despite the significant progress so far, Loscalzo told Breakthroughs, there is still more work to be done. He and his team are looking to expand the partners' clinic to other cancer diagnoses. They are also researching on how to tailor supportive services to best fit a patient's physical, psychosocial and cultural background, similar to how an oncologist personalizes a treatment plan according to a patient's genetic profile or the tumor's biological makeup.

In the meantime, the Department of Supportive Medicine and the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center remain ever ready to address whatever concerns or questions a patient, caregiver or loved one might have.

"From the moment [patients] are diagnosed and through survivorship, we are there for them 24/7," Loscalzo said.

The Biller Patient and Family Resource Center celebrated its fifth anniversary on Friday, Oct. 4. Happy Anniversary, Biller Center – and thank you.

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