Disaster Relief Wallet Card Now Available for Cancer Patients in the Gulf Coast States

Released on: July 16, 2008, 6:53 am

Press Release Author: Marc Belanger, Cancer Information Service

Industry: Non Profit

Press Release Summary: During hurricane season 2008, cancer patients and oncologists
are offered a disaster relief wallet card that allows them to stay connected during
times of disaster.

Press Release Body: Miami, Fla. -- (July 16, 2008) -- The National Cancer
Institute's Cancer Information Service (CIS) and the American Society of Clinical
Oncology (ASCO) have developed a wallet card that is being piloted in the Gulf Coast
states of TX, LA. MS, AL, and FL. The wallet card guides displaced cancer patients
to ASCO's patient information website (www.cancer.net) and the various CIS public
information services (i.e., national toll-free number 1-800-4-CANCER, and LiveHelpT
instant messaging and e-mail services available at www.cancer.gov/help). Using this
nationwide electronic and telecommunication infrastructure, patients and physicians
can access and share information in the event of a disaster such as a hurricane. The
plastic waterproof card also provides space to write the patient's name, diagnosis,
and treatment to communicate vital information to health care providers.

"Connecting patients from all over the country to cancer information and clinical
trials is what the CIS does every day," said Madeline La Porta, deputy director of
the CIS. "Our collaboration with ASCO will help reconnect displaced patients and
doctors after a natural disaster so they can get the information they need."

This collaboration builds upon a successful partnership in 2005 in response to the
devastation caused by hurricanes Rita and Katrina. NCI and ASCO worked closely to
provide the toll-free CIS phone number and Web-based resources to help displaced
doctors and their cancer patients contact each other to ensure continued care.

"Continuity of care is crucial to the health and well being of people with cancer,"
said ASCO President Dr. Nancy E. Davidson. "ASCO is pleased to partner with NCI to
ensure that people with cancer across the United States can access the high-quality
care that they need, no matter what the circumstance."

Before developing the card, ASCO conducted a formative evaluation of the concept and
prototype of the wallet card among oncologists and oncology nurses who attended the
Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress, the ASCO Annual Meeting, and an ASCO
Committee Meeting. ASCO staff reported that all of the attendees surveyed at their
annual meeting agreed that such a resource would be valuable for their patients.

The card will be piloted over the next year to include the 2008 hurricane season and
available to individuals and oncologists practices in the Gulf Coast states only. An
evaluation of the pilot will help determine whether the program is expanded to cover
other geographic areas or other potential disasters.

"When I received the e-mail about this program, I was very excited," says Coleen
Booker, a registered nurse and coordinator for the GI Oncology Center at the
University of Florida Shands Cancer Center in Gainesville. She recalls how after
Hurricane Katrina, cancer patients from New Orleans came to Florida. Their medical
records had been destroyed, and sometimes the patients didn't know how to spell
their doctor's name, making it difficult to determine their true diagnosis, medical
history, and best course of treatment. "But it's not just about catastrophes," she
says. "With this program, if people come to Florida on vacation or as snowbirds to
live for half of the year, these cards will make it much easier for us to help

Individuals and oncology practices in the Gulf Coast States can order copies of the
card by calling the CIS at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). Quantities limited to
100 per order.

Web Site: http://www.cancer.gov

Contact Details: Marc Belanger, Communications Specialist
Cancer Information Service

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