Stony Brook Children’s recently became the eighth Valerie Fund Children’s Center, a partnership that will allow Stony Brook Pediatric Hematology/Oncology to better serve patients with cancer and blood disorders throughout Long Island, by enhancing psychosocial services. The department now has access to funds specifically designated for pediatric hematology and oncology patients and families—to provide critical support such as social workers, child life specialists and family psychologists.
Division chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, Laura Hogan, MD, has cared for some of the region’s sickest children.
“For these patients, psychosocial support is just as important as the treatments they receive to improve their medical diagnosis,” she says. “And it’s not just for the patients themselves. There’s a great need for the families we serve.”
The Valerie Fund is a non-profit organization created to provide individualized care at a medical center close to home, with a focus on treating children emotionally, socially, and developmentally, in addition to medically.
The Valerie Fund was established in 1976 by Ed and Sue Goldstein after losing their daughter, Valerie, to cancer at age 9. In addition to spending six years making the 90-minute drive from their home in New Jersey to Valerie’s treatment center in New York City, they often had to leave their younger daughter with family members and babysitters, quickly realizing the impact Valerie’s illness was having on their entire family.
“When a child gets sick, it’s not just the child that needs to be treated; the whole family is impacted,” says Barry Kirschner, the Valerie Fund’s executive director. “Through our Valerie Fund Centers, we are able to mitigate the inconvenience and discomfort that families go through if they had to travel, but we also have these resources to help families, siblings and patients themselves manage the psychosocial challenges that often accompany diagnoses like these.”
With the addition of Stony Brook Children’s Hospital to its network of centers, The Valerie Fund has extended its footprint from metro Philadelphia to Eastern Long Island, the most densely populated region in the United States. Stony Brook Children’s became the eighth Valerie Fund Children’s Center, a partnership that will allow the hospital to better serve patients with cancer and blood disorders.
“Building out this team to ensure these resources are more readily available and accessible is central to both The Valerie Fund’s mission and Stony Brook’s care model,” says Carolyn Milana, MD, physician-in-chief, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
"As physicians, we never treat just the patient,” she says. “Having all of these extra support services in place allows us to focus on the medical care while also having staff who can do all the necessary things to keep the family functional.”