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A pilot project has been initiated as part of the accreditation of the National Cancer Centre at the East Hospital – patient support teams have been established

A pilot project has been successfully initiated as part of the accreditation of the National Cancer Centre of Riga East Clinical University (hereinafter – the East Hospital). Patient support teams have been established, consisting of patient coordinators, as well as patient education and support nurses. As of 2023, breast cancer and haematological tumor patients receive informational, educational, and organisational support.

A pilot project has been initiated as part of the accreditation of the National Cancer Centre at the East Hospital – patient support teams have been established, consisting of patient coordinators, as well as patient education and support nurses. As of 2023, breast cancer and haematological tumor patients receive informational, educational, and organisational support.

“We have come to the conclusion that patients willingly make use of this support, asking seemingly basic but actually crucial questions, such as whether they can drink coffee before a magnetic resonance imaging examination. Patient support and education nurses inform the patient about the planned treatment, possible complications, and side effects. In case of any uncertainties, patients first turn to the nurse. If the problem is serious, the attending physician is involved,” shares the Care Unit Director at the East Hospital, Inese Budzila.

Head of the Chemotherapy Day Hospital, Associate Professor Iveta Kudaba, points out: “Given the shortage of nurses and doctors, we seek solutions to organise the administration of chemotherapy drugs as smoothly as possible. This means utilising the knowledge and potential of nurses. It is, however, important to consider that not all patients manage to undergo chemotherapy while adhering to the timeframes and intervals specified by the oncologist or oncology chemotherapist between the courses. Most patients receive chemotherapy according to guidelines and intervals, but in cases where the intervals are disrupted due to health problems, we work on reorganising the individual chemotherapy drug schedule for each patient. This requires not only additional time but also a change in the clinic’s work organisation and the involvement of the staff – doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other specialists – which we currently ensure. We have set ambitious goals, which involve increasing patient turnover and capacity in the Chemotherapy Day Hospital, and that can be achieved by strengthening the staff recruitment.”

The range of patients who will be able to consult on important matters regarding the treatment and care process, is expanding. In 2024, four more patient education and support nurses and six patient coordinators will start their work at the hospital.

“We work on training nurses from within the hospital and recruiting the most capable and skilful nurses who have graduated from medical schools. Unfortunately, it should be noted that professions such as “patient coordinator” or “patient education and support nurse” have not existed until now, but they require specific specialised knowledge. In the absence of these skills, it takes time to train the staff,” explains Inese Budzila.

The accreditation process for the National Cancer Centre has been taking place since 2022 when the East Hospital established a multidisciplinary accreditation team for the centre. The accreditation process is expected to conclude in 2024, with active preparations currently underway.


About the East Hospital 

The Riga East University Hospital is the largest and strategically significant multi-profile hospital in the country. The hospital consists of five inpatient facilities – “Gaiļezers”, “Latvian Oncology Centre” , “Biķernieki”, “Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Centre”, and “Latvian Infectious Diseases Centre”, along with various specialised centres and clinics. The hospital provides highly specialised inpatient and secondary outpatient healthcare, offering multidisciplinary tertiary-level treatment and care in line with modern technology and medical knowledge. Approximately 80% of all cancer patients in Latvia are treated at the hospital. It serves as a practical training base for both Latvian educational institutions and foreign students, providing further education and knowledge transfer to healthcare specialists within and beyond the country. The hospital engages in scientific research and develops innovative methods for patient treatment. As the third-largest employer in the country, the hospital employs around 5000 staff members.

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