John Hunter Hospital has appointed the region’s first Care Coordination Nurse for people with brain cancer under a three-year funding arrangement with the Mark Hughes Foundation (MHF) to provide a vital link between health staff, patients and medical researchers.
Nurse Jane Morison, a neurosurgical case manager at John Hunter Hospital, will work in the new role for six months while a full-time applicant is recruited. She will provide support to people receiving care at the John Hunter and Calvary Mater Newcastle hospitals.
Mark and wife Kirralee Hughes started their Foundation to boost medical research into brain cancer but also realised there was a need to assist patients at the start of their cancer journey.
“I go back to when Kirralee and I were hit with the bombshell that I had brain cancer. You want answers, you want support,” Mr Hughes said. “We were getting snippets of information from our doctors but there was no one to answer those little calls and provide comfort in what’s the toughest situation of your life.
“The nurse will also participate in research, including clinical trials and the evaluation of clinical interventions. We felt there needed to be someone who could glue it together for families.”
Jane Morison met Mark the day he was admitted to her ward for an operation to remove a brain tumour and is excited to now be working for his fundraising group: “We’ve never had someone delegated to purely look after people with brain cancer. The Foundation has made it possible,” she said.
As care coordination nurse, Ms Morison will help explain the medical information being provided by surgeons, oncologists, radiologists and Allied Health staff to help patients work through their options. She will offer information packs, collect research data and also encourage use of the brain cancer biobanking that MHF also supports.
Data and outcomes will be forwarded to the MHF Scientific Committee for evaluation.
“A gap sometimes exists between the time of diagnosis and the person going home to await the next step. Tumours don’t discriminate – they can affect young, working and healthy people – and some patients function very well after surgery while others don’t,” Ms Morison said.
Mark Hughes says there can be down times while going through the battle. “It can be a pretty lonely time, so having a nurse who deals with this daily will be a huge help for patients who come from throughout the Hunter New England region and up to the Queensland border.
“There’ll be a special someone here who’s looking out for them and 100 per cent focused on brain cancer care and research. We’re confident it will be a fantastic asset to the community.”
* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.