A blood and marrow transplant is not a procedure—it’s a journey.
The transplant process takes months, even with no complications or delays. During that time, patients and their families will likely need to make significant adjustments to all aspects of their lives. In recognition of this, the University of Minnesota Health Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) program offers a wide range of support services tailored to the needs of our blood and marrow transplant patients—from care coordination to survivorships programs. Here is a breakdown of some of the BMT support services we offer.
This year, the University of Minnesota celebrates the 50th anniversary of the world’s first successful matched, related donor bone marrow transplant—which was performed in 1968 at University of Minnesota Medical Center by Robert Good, MD. Read more about this milestone.
Both the adult and pediatric BMT programs have dedicated, full-time nurse care coordinators. Each patient is assigned to an individual nurse care coordinator for the duration of treatment. They are a consistent resource for patients throughout their transplant journey, from the first meeting through the transplant process and into the years beyond.
“The nurse care coordinators are a major touch point, a safety net for patients,” said BMT Nurse Coordinator Tim Krepski, RN, BSN, CHTC. “The families know that they can always call us with problems and questions, and that we are there to ensure that the patient is flowing through the transplant process smoothly, in accordance with the treatment plan.”
A blood and marrow transplant can interrupt every aspect of a person’s life, and affects family and friends as well. Patients often leave home, family, and work or school for months on end. That’s why our program includes full-time social workers, all of whom focus solely on BMT patients.
“Our job is to help patients and their families cope with all of the medical and non-medical aspects of the transplant, including practical and emotional matters,” said Clinical Social Worker Janet Ziegler, MSW, LICSW. “We work with patients and families to identify their unique goals, needs, strengths, and challenges. Using that information, we determine how we can help each family cope successfully with whatever happens. We provide education and coaching about the treatment process, problem solving and coping. We help patients and caregivers understand medical information, communicate with the care team, ask questions, and make decisions that are right for them.”
The BMT program’s social workers also help patients manage treatment-related changes and uncertainties, including financial strain, disruptions in employment or schooling, and emotional or spiritual stress. They offer education, advocacy, counseling and support as families navigate this life-changing journey.
University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital uses a family-centered care model. As part of that approach, the pediatric BMT program offers amenities like the End Zone that let kids be kids while they undergo treatment. We know that children who are hospitalized need to play and be creative as much as—or even more than—any other child. We offer a variety of play and recreation activities, in addition to specialized physical, occupational, and speech therapies. We also support patients and their siblings’ need to keep up with school work (another part of being a kid). The hospital’s new Wellness Center gives the parents of patients a valuable self-care option—without even leaving the hospital.
Both adult and pediatric patients benefit from beautiful, state-of-the-art facilities that support relaxation and healing. At our adult care facilities, our BMT hospital unit was recently renovated. Outpatient appointments and infusions are held at the new University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center.
Integrative therapies focus on whole-person healing, pain management, and stress reduction so that patients’ bodies can relax and function better. Our pediatric Integrated Health program is a vital component of a patient’s overall medical care plan. Acupuncture, Reiki, massage, music therapy and other options can help children going through a blood and marrow transplant by alleviating symptoms, pain, and anxiety.
We offer spiritual support services for adult and pediatric patients and their families—no matter your faith traditions and practices. Chaplains are available to accompany you as you deal with the challenges of illness and treatment.
Both adult and pediatric blood and marrow transplant survivors face greater risk of complications, cancer recurrence, growth development challenges, or other late effects after their transplants.
That’s why it’s important to receive ongoing monitoring and follow-up care as part of our survivorship programs. For pediatric survivors, we perform all necessary monitoring and keep your child’s pediatrician informed of test results and any treatment plans. Visits can also include meetings with BMT program social workers to help families manage ongoing practical and emotional support needs.
Adult survivors can expect the same customized care. Our survivor program specialists will conduct ongoing health exams, screen for possible late effects of cancer treatment, provide follow-up care for any health-related issues, and help educate you so that you can live a healthy, active life.