In October, 2011, Rhode Island made history as the first state to mount a cancer rehabilitation- initiative, bringing STAR Program Certification to more than 20 facilities and thousands of survivors throughout RI, thanks to the financial support of The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation.
Now, with the help of The Friends of Mel Foundation, Massachusetts, the state with the nation’s most progressive healthcare system, has taken the torch and is reaffirming its commitment to quality medical care for all by giving cancer survivors a healthier future through rehabilitation.
Connecticut, the third state to create a statewide initiative, launched in July 2012 with the help of Dr. Taubin. He funded a STAR Program at Bridgeport Hospital in the name of his lovely wife Sandie who succumbed to breast cancer in December of 2010.
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The state of Rhode Island, in collaboration with Oncology Rehab Partners (ORP) and Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, mounted the country’s first statewide initiative to make cancer rehabilitation the standard of care for its survivors, by bringing the STAR Program® Certifications (Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation) to its American College of Surgeons’ (ACS) Commission on Cancer (CoC)-accredited hospitals and several independent rehab facilities throughout RI. Just as New York led the way nationwide in recognizing the value of cardiac rehab almost a century ago, the tiny state of Rhode Island is now proving itself to be at the forefront of a critical movement in healthcare.
In February, 2011, the CoC revised its Cancer Program Standards (CPS) to require each of its 1,500 accredited hospitals to offer a follow-up “care plan” to every survivor. Oncology Rehab Partner’s STAR Program Certification is the only program in the country that provides a way for healthcare facilities to establish, or expand, their own oncology rehabilitation programs quickly and effectively, using a best practices model. STAR Program Certification can be executed within three to six months – a fraction of the time that would normally be required for a medical practice to conduct its own research and development.
The 345,000 cancer survivors living in Massachusetts will soon have increased access to crucial rehabilitation services to help them heal from cancer treatments, thanks to a new statewide initiative launched in collaboration with Oncology Rehab Partners and The Friends of Mel Foundation started in the fall of 2012.
The initiative’s goal is to establish cancer rehabilitation services across Massachusetts, reaching survivors in every county in the state. Eight Massachusetts hospitals and cancer centers will develop and implement services through Oncology Rehab Partners’ STAR Program® Certification
The Friends of Mel Foundation, based in Hingham, MA, was founded by the friends of Mel Simmons, a long-time Delta Air Lines flight attendant who passed away from breast cancer. With a mission to help transform the lives of individuals living with cancer, The Friends of Mel Foundation’s support of the Massachusetts initiative will make it possible for survivors across the state to get rehabilitation care so they can recover their strength and energy and feel their best.
In December of 2010, Dr. Howard Taubin, a Gastroenterologist on the medical staff at Bridgeport Hospital, lost his wife, Sandie after a long journey with breast cancer. Being by Sandie’s side throughout her cancer experience, Dr. Taubin understood the importance of patients having access to comprehensive survivorship services. In early 2012, Dr. Taubin learned about cancer rehabilitation and the STAR Program and decided to make a philanthropic donation to the Bridgeport Hospital Foundation to fund the STAR Program. This contribution made it possible for Bridgeport Hospital to become the first healthcare facility in Connecticut to become STAR Program Certified.
To ensure this generous contribution would be recognized throughout the Bridgeport Hospital community, The Bridgeport Hospital Foundation worked closely with the Taubin family and Oncology Rehab Partners. After collaboration with all parties, The STAR Program was officially named the Sandie Taubin STAR Program® and all of the related awareness, outreach and marketing materials reflected the name and the Bridgeport Hospital brand.
The Sandie Taubin STAR Program officially launched in July, 2012 and was celebrated at an event attended by members and friends of the Taubin family, Bridgeport Hospital physicians and staff and certified STAR Clinicians® and STAR Providers™ from Bridgeport Hospital. Dr. Julie Silver, Oncology Rehab Partners’ co-founder, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and herself a cancer survivor, spoke to the event attendees about cancer rehabilitation and survivorship care. “Bridgeport Hospital has raised the bar on survivorship care in Connecticut and validated cancer rehabilitation as a critical component of the recovery process. The Sandie Taubin STAR Program will help cancer survivors heal optimally so they can get back to their families and lives.”
There was substantial local and regional media coverage about the launch of the Sandie Taubin STAR Program and Dr. Taubin’s philanthropy. The story was covered by news outlets throughout Connecticut including, the CT Post, WTNH Channel 8, Fox 61 CT and OnlyinBridgeport.com, as well as Hospital Newspaper, a regional healthcare publication. The coverage was overwhelmingly positive and informative about the importance of cancer rehabilitation for survivors. A number of the stories included a testimonial from a breast cancer survivor who is a patient of the Sandie Taubin STAR Program, incredibly grateful for the care she is receiving and feeling better than she ever thought she would after cancer treatment.
After Bridgeport Hospital launched its STAR Program other Connecticut hospitals were motivated to bring the STAR Program to their facilities. These included Griffin, Greenwich and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.