OUR AYA ONCOLOGY UNIT
AYA Cancer Treatment Fort Worth TX
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AN AYA CANCER TREATMENT “HOME” FOR YOUNG ADULTS
In 2014, our coalition prioritized the development and construction of an adolescent and young adult AYA cancer treatment inpatient unit to address the unique medical and psychosocial needs of young patients in Fort Worth.
Following a thorough proposal and selection process, coalition members selected Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth as the collaborative project’s host location.
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.
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 place 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 essential, supported, and welcomed.
Featuring extras like smart TVs, enhanced WiFi, game tables, and 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 promote longer, higher quality, and more comfortable patient guest visits.
Explore the many different features and amenities our unit has to offer.
EXPLORE OUR UNIT FEATURES
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.
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 significant first step toward facilitating peer support and promoting connectivity.
Still, 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 seating for work or study..
- 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, puzzles, and coloring books are available to provide AYAs with activities they can do with their families or peers
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)
- 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
AYA COCOON ROOM
The cocoon room provides patients, their families, or guests a quiet retreat when they need 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
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. Besides our kitchen amenities, AYA patients can also order from a particular hospital menu 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
Two of our unit’s six inpatient rooms can quickly transform into outpatient infusion treatment 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.
While our unit images provide a high-level view of its features, it doesn’t tell the full story about how our unit was designed 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 visiting 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) allows additional space for gathering.
- 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.
A STARTING POINT
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 AYA cancer treatment facility, we have work to do to ensure we can 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.
Our nurse’s station is home to an FWAYAOC patient navigator and specially-trained AYA Baylor nursing staff.
We are currently raising 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