Chester River Hospital Center
Oncology Services

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is a life-changing event. It may require important decisions about treatment, commitment of significant resources (e.g. time, money, emotion, etc.), temporary disruption of daily roles, and major lifestyle changes. At Chester River Hospital Center we believe that the treatment of cancer involves the treatment of the whole person and family.

Cancer Counseling Program

The Cancer Counseling Program, developed in affiliation with Johns Hopkins Medicine, is a collection of services offered to cancer patients and their families to address the psychological and social needs that accompany the diagnosis of cancer. Funded partially through the generosity of a local donor and partially through health insurance, services are available from the point of diagnosis, throughout the course of treatment, and beyond. Licensed mental health professionals and the oncology nursing staff provide all services and programs.

Initial Screening

Using state-of-the-art, brief assessment measures, all new cancer patients receiving chemotherapy treatment at Chester River Hospital Center are screened for psychological distress and signs of difficulties in the family as both patient and family cope with information about the disease and make decisions about treatment. Patients and family are then interviewed by a Cancer Counseling Program staff member to further assess the functioning of the patient and family. Recommendations for services, whether educational, supportive, and/or psychotherapeutic in nature, are made at the conclusion of this evaluation.

Follow-up Care

Continued screening at points of likely distress such as the beginning of treatment, disease re-emergence, and end of treatment is done for all patients as well. All services available are accessible to patients and family members throughout treatment and the course of the disease.

Services Available:

Counseling Services

Crisis Intervention - Timely, brief assistance to the patient and family members at the time of diagnosis, treatment decisions, and transitions in care.

Individual Counseling - Short-term or longer-term assistance to aid the individual in coping with the effects of illness on relationships, career, family, and emotional functioning. Available for children, adolescents, and adults.

Couples & Family Counseling - Short- to long-term treatment specifically aimed to improve the functioning of the couple and family as a result of the disruptive effects of the illness or pre-existing difficulties.

All counseling services are provided through the staff of Chester River Behavioral Health. Appointments can be made by calling (410) 778-5550.

Support/Therapy Groups

Monthly Support Group - Education and discussion on cancer-related topics, open to all those interested. Meets the fourth Monday of each month from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Cafeteria Meeting Room at Chester River Hospital Center. Contact Josie Elburn, R.N., for details at (410) 778-3300, ext. 2381.

Women's Group - Expressive therapy group for women at any stage of treatment and recovery. Meets twice a month on Tuesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Chester River Hospital Center. Contact Dr. Rick Wirtz for details at (410) 778-5550.

Educational/Support Programs

Living with Cancer - Two FREE ninety-minute classes to help family and patients in solving commonly occurring problems due to treatment and illness. Scheduled each month based on interest.

Patient-to-Patient -
Cancer survivors who have experienced surgery, treatment, and living with cancer are available to speak to newly diagnosed individuals and family members. Volunteers are trained and supervised by the Cancer Counseling staff. If you are a survivor and would like to share your knowledge and experiences with newly diagnosed patients please call either of the numbers below.

Those interested in participating in these support and educational programs can contact Josie Elburn, R.N., or Vickie Cranford, R.N., at (410) 778-3300, ext. 2381 or Dr. Rick Wirtz, Director, Cancer Counseling Program at (410) 778-5550.

Respite care is available to patients and family members to allow them to leave home to attend these meetings.