A few years ago Social Work Specialist Jaclyn Sparkman identified a need to help patients who have cancer with financial challenges they face. She submitted a grant request to Columbus Regional Health Foundation to “help patients become survivors,” she said. The approved three-year grant can be used to pay utility bills, for supplies, medications, and nutritional supplements, and for other care needs. She is grateful for the support the Foundation has provided. “For me, the grant has been instrumental in allowing me to help patients meet their needs in the moment. It feels good to help others and to help them with items that many times I/we take for granted,” Jaclyn said.
The financial support has also meant a lot to patients. “Patients have verbalized how thankful they are for the help and how much it has alleviated their stress,” Jaclyn said. “It helps form a connection to say we truly care about you, and we want the best outcomes for you.”
Jaclyn is also grateful to the many high school seniors who have focused their senior projects on supporting Cancer Center patients. Some have raised funds to buy gas cards that are available for patients who have to travel back and forth to the Cancer Center for radiation treatment, sometimes every Monday through Friday for several weeks. “We don’t want to delay treatment due to barriers,” she said.
In addition to helping with financial needs, Jaclyn provides emotional support to patients and families and assesses overall needs for patients when they start treatment. She connects them to various resources, explains eligibility options, and helps with completing paperwork.
Jaclyn enjoys working with the Cancer Center team. “They’re very kind and generous, and they build a relationship with each patient,” she said. Jaclyn also enjoys working with the other Social Work team members. They help each other a lot and “have each other’s backs,” she said. Prior to joining CRH four years ago, Jaclyn said she worked with her current supervisor, Social Services Manager Liz Patton. She praised Liz for being both a great therapist and someone she highly respects. “It’s easy to work for someone you respect that much,” she said.
Jaclyn has found her work to be rewarding, but a couple instances that really stand out involved two patients who had terminal cancer. Both patients had bucket lists of things they wanted to do before they passed away. Jaclyn submitted applications to the Dream Foundation to help the patients achieve an important item on their lists. One patient was able to take a trip with his family to Joshua Tree National Park in California; the other patient was able to travel with her sister to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. “I was able to play a part in making it happen, which was really rewarding,” Jaclyn said. “We become such a part of their life, which is really neat. We become a part of their story,” she said.
Thank you for being a part of our patients’ stories and the Columbus Regional Health story, Jaclyn!