More than medical needs: Four Diamonds provides social support

July 19, 2017

HERSHEY, Pa. — When a child is first diagnosed with cancer, the family may be scared and wonder how they will make it through. It’s during that time that the dedicated psychosocial team at Penn State Children’s Hospital introduces them to Four Diamonds.

In addition to the financial support offered to families of children with cancer, Four Diamonds provides holistic, family-centered care by addressing not only the physical but also the mental, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their families.

Social workers like Greg Baiocchi offer families the silver lining to the childhood cancer cloud in the form of Four Diamonds help.

“Throw a stone into a lake and there’s a ripple effect — the stone being the cancer — and families start realizing how much this situation is going to affect them short term and long term,” he said.

Parents come to realize their family is never going to be the same again.

“We try to reassure families that they’re at the right place and with Four Diamonds’ support they’re not going to need to worry about their child’s medical expenses,” Baiocchi said. From that point on, the family is part of Four Diamonds until their child is five years off treatment, which includes transition into a newly created survivorship clinic.

“Four Diamonds supports those team members who are vital to helping families get through this,” Baiocchi said.

The psychosocial support team is made up of social workers, child life specialists, music therapists, a chaplain, a psychologist and nutritionist — just to name a few — who all do whatever they can to allow children to be children.

“It’s a challenge to maintain normalcy but we want the kids to be able to have fun, do school work and play because that’s a normal part of their regular routine,” Baiocchi said.

The team has also recently added a neuropsychologist to evaluate side effects patients may experience after treatment.

“It can affect them cognitively as far as their ability to learn and process information,” he said.

These services are especially important to brain tumor patients and long-term survivors because of late and lasting effects.

The psychosocial support team meets weekly to share information about patients and the family, like how they seem to be coping and adjusting to the illness. They then discuss strategies of how to best meet whatever the child or family’s needs might be.

Learn more about the work of the psychosocial support team in this Penn State Medicine article.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 19, 2017