Nora Rightmer, Clinical Oncology Social Worker for Hematology, sees patients and their families as a unit, and makes sure to include both when counseling a patient. Nora meets with patients in the inpatient clinic on the 11th floor of Smilow and also on the 7th floor. She meets with and helps to assess patients when they first arrive, and provides them with information and resources as they try to adjust to their new diagnosis.
Nora commented that patients, particularly with a diagnosis of leukemia, can come into the hospital and have to be admitted right away, sometimes having to stay for up to a month without being able to go home. "Hematology patients are oftentimes dealing with a very serious illness that can be debilitating and time consuming. My job is to help them deal with the initial shock of the diagnosis, to see how it fits into their lives, and follow them through treatment and to end-of-life if necessary," said Nora.
Having been in her current role for twelve years, Nora has come to realize that even the smallest thing can have a big impact. Whether it is arranging for the care of a pet, or offering emotional support, every effort makes the journey smoother. Nora also likes to keep in mind that patients had a life before cancer, and will continue to have a life after cancer. "Making patients well again is obviously the most important thing, and there are excellent doctors and nurses here for that, but there are other issues patients are dealing with, and that's where we come in."