A cancer treatment “Home” for young adults

In 2014, our coalition prioritized the development and construction of an adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer inpatient unit to address the unique medical and psychosocial needs of young people in Fort Worth. Following a thorough proposal and selection process, coalition members selected Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth as the host location for the collaborative project. In May 2016, we opened the first community-supported AYA cancer inpatient unit and infusion center in the country, signifying a monumental shift in AYA cancer care in our region.

The FWAYAOC unit provides an age-relevant “medical home” for AYA-specialized cancer care, where the unique medical, biological and psychosocial differences in young people are understood, acknowledged and addressed as a priority instead of an afterthought. It’s a home of empowerment, where young people can safely and confidently navigate the short and long-term social, financial, physical and emotional barriers that arrive with a cancer diagnosis.

The design of our unit was influenced by the expressed needs of AYA patients, their families and our medical community. Together, we sought to create a space that communicates to patients that they, their family and friends are important, supported and welcomed. From smart TVs to enhanced WiFi and game tables to a comfortable lounge area, our unit offers amenities that bring familiarity and assurance to AYAs, facilitates peer interactions and inspires hope for all. The unit’s open layout, spacious rooms, hybrid desks that convert into comfortable Murphy beds and ample storage space in every patient room promotes longer, higher quality and more comfortable visits for patient guests.

Explore the many different features and amenities our unit has to offer at the menu below.

Where is Our Unit located?

The FWAYAOC inpatient unit is located at:
Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth
1400 8th Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76104

AYA Lounge

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A cancer diagnosis can cause feelings of isolation, especially for AYAs. They feel alone because, for the most part, they are alone. 85 to 90% of patients in a children’s hospital are under the age of 15, and 90 to 95% of patients in an adult hospital are over 40 years old. Many AYAs say they never met or saw someone their own age when receiving cancer treatment. Imagine not being able to relate to anyone in the infusion room while receiving chemo or looking around a waiting room only to notice that nobody looks like you. You might not feel like you belong, and you might never meet someone your age with cancer.

Building a unit for AYAs was a great first step toward facilitating peer support and promoting connectivity, but we also wanted to create a comfortable, family-friendly atmosphere that would inspire AYAs to get out of their rooms and into the presence of their peers. Our AYA lounge serves that purpose and more.

The bright, energetic living area is an inviting space where AYAs, their families or friends can come together to play video or board games, watch TV or stream movies.  The wall of windows brings the outside in, offering plenty of natural lighting and beautiful, panoramic views of the Fort Worth skyline. Our living space amenities include:

  • A comfortable chaise sofa, lightweight chairs and plenty of coffee tables.
  • Xbox One game console and 70-inch smart TV.
  • Multi-function community table and coffee bar to facilitate group activities, conversations, art therapy and more.
  • Lots of USB outlets to charge electronic devices.
  • Family-friendly board games and puzzles.

Game Room

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Adjacent to our lounge is our game room, which serves as a recreational space for AYAs who want to “get away” from cancer treatment and into a fun environment. The unique, social space sets the stage for peer-to-peer interactions and provides patients an opportunity to be more active while in treatment. Our game area features:

  • Bumper pool and foosball tables
  • A record player and records (this is trendy again) and Alexa bluetooth-enabled speaker
  • A wall of inspiration for anyone to write inspiring quotes, messages or thoughts
  • Tall cocktail tables and chairs for seating
  • A coffee bar with many power/USB outlets

Cocoon Room

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The cocoon room provides patients, their family or guests a quiet retreat when they’re in need of privacy, peace or solitude while in our unit. It was inspired by the expressed desires of our coalition’s AYA survivors and their families. The nearly sound-proof room also gives us a dedicated space for patient and family counseling, yoga and meditation classes or other therapeutic patient activities and services.

The cocoon room features:

  • Built-in bookshelves to stock many different kinds of books, games and resources for patients play or benefit from at their leisure
  • Deep, comfortable, wrap-around seating for patients to entertain friends and family or have enough room to lay down, spread out and make themselves at home
  • Plenty of power and USB outlets to charge electronics (a theme throughout our unit)
  • A wide array of lighting options to manipulate the atmosphere based on room use or need

AYA Kitchen

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Within our unit is a dedicated AYA kitchen for patients and their guests. This enables young families to save on meal costs, spend more time with their loved ones and feel at home. In addition to our kitchen amenities, AYA patients can also order from a special hospital menu made specifically for them.

The AYA kitchen amenities include:

  • A microwave and convection oven
  • Refrigerator, freezer and ice machine
  • Multi-function barista machine
  • Labeled cabinet space for every patient room

Patient Room

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Our unit’s six rooms are designed to make AYAs and their families feel cared for. Each spacious room has a different size, function and layout, allowing us to accommodate a patient’s family or social needs. It was important to create a comfortable space for patient guests, so that they can enjoy longer, higher quality visits with those they love.

Our patient rooms feature:

  • Ample drawer and cabinet space for extra storage
  • A multi-function desks that convert into comfortable, memory foam Murphy beds for overnight guests.
  • Internet-enabled smart TV’s for streaming movies and/or music
  • Large ensuite bathrooms with walk-in showers, hotel finishes and extra storage capacity for guests

Infusion Room

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Two of our unit’s six inpatient rooms can easily transform into outpatient infusion areas, increasing cost efficiency and maximizing opportunities for AYAs to meet, interact or develop relationships with other AYAs their age. The flexibility enables us to adapt to our community’s shifting oncology needs while optimizing our capacity to serve AYAs for many years to come. Outpatients enjoy the same great amenities, support and resources that inpatients receive.

Lobby/Nurses Station

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Our nurses station is home to a FWAYAOC patient navigator and specially-trained AYA Baylor nursing staff. We are currently raising the funds to offer a full-complement of AYA-specialized psychosocial support that includes:

  • Nurse Practitioner to assist the oncologist in maximizing adherence and minimizing toxicities
  • “Child” life specialist to facilitate art, music and wellness therapies
  • Social worker to coordinate and distribute age-relevant social, financial and “life” resources
  • Psychologist to offer support groups and individual and family counseling services
  • Hospital “super users” that include AYA-trained dieticians, physical and occupational therapists, palliative and pastoral care staff and pharmacy technicians

Other Important Amenities

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While our unit images provide a high-level view of its features, it doesn’t tell the full story about how designed our unit to meet the needs of AYAs. Here are some of the amenities you can’t see:

  • An enhanced WiFi network equips patients with the data infrastructure for school or work matters, device streaming, online gaming or staying connected with friends
  • Parking is free for visitor guests, removing a barrier of affordability
  • Medication rounds begin in the late morning to accommodate an AYA’s sleep schedule
  • A family room down the hall (from our unit) is equipped with additional kitchen, bathroom, shower and washer/dryer amenities
  • The unit’s design theme was inspired by the strength, determination and serenity of a flowing river. The ceiling showcases blue curves that symbolize the twists and turns of a patient’s life journey
  • Balanced rocks, or cairns, are incorporated into our unit theme and represent our patient journeys. Mountain climbers wishing to leave evidence of their journey started or built upon an existing cairn next to a trail. Our patients can symbolize their personal cancer journey by signing an adhesive rock and placing it on their wall when they leave so that AYAs who are admitted behind them know they are not alone

These images communicate the level of thoughtful detail and hard work our coalition has put into making this space a home for AYAs in our community. While it’s a beautiful facility, we have work to do to ensure we’re able to offer the programs that equip young people with the tools and resources they need to improve their quantity and quality of life. They deserve the same opportunities as those who are never diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.

As we continue to work together to improve the lives of young adults with cancer, we want you to know that there are ways you can help us make a difference.