This week I had the opportunity to tag-along with Katie Lobner to her Radiation Oncology office hours. I’ve been bugging Katie to “take me fishing” so I could get an idea of how an Informationist actually becoming embedded. So away we went to Radiation/Oncology in Weinberg, and as we walked through the corridors and floors little ‘site reminders’ of my time there with my mother seemed to sentimentalize themselves right before my eyes. But moving on….. 

I was surprised when Katie introduced me to Ron Noecker, who I realized was the very same Ron Noecker who started Nursing Heart all by his lonesome. When I asked why he’d started the blog Ron said that “sometimes we all need a higher power to connect with. Working in Oncology you utilize so many analytical qualities and resources that it’s easy to lose sight of the actual practice of healing.”  Ron admitted that Katie helped him find links for “nursing and spirituality”. If by any unfortunate chance you’ve had some proximity to chemotherapy, you immediately know the breath of his intentions.   

(above, Kathryn Han and Ron Noecker)

Between quickly munched goodies, Kathryn Han and Amanda Choflet were busy making follow-up calls to patients, making inquiries into their condition, making appointments and inputting data. I got the sense this was the general mode of operation, and that a real lunch was a very infrequent commodity. Amanda, pursuing her Ph.D in Nursing Education, said Katie had helped her with literature searches and accessing Welch resources. She commented on the convenience of having an Informationist come to them (!!!) . Nurse Manager Marian Richardson stopped by to check in and get updates. (And wondering “who the heck is this new guy who’s not a nurse”)

 As time unfolded, I saw the preciousness behind “devotion to duty” reveal itself in patient analysis, computer work, reviewing files and the kindness of a sympathetic, caring voice to patients on the other end of the line.  Of course, this doesn’t even account for the patients this crew has actually seen or will see that day. You can well imagine that taking a visit to the library is a luxury time-out they simply can’t afford.


(above, Amanda Choflet)

After my short stay, I reflected on Ron’s comments. When I asked him about the blog, I already knew the scope of his answer since I posted about in on the Welch FB page. But sometimes I’ve found that when hearing people describe what they do and how they do it, you stumble onto the originality behind the logic. It makes perfect sense that Ron wanted something to connect an audience to the greater powers of healing. With the endgame that often comes from radiation treatments, everyone needs those rays of light that don’t come from hospital visits, needles and consultations.     

(Marian Richardson, Nurse Manager)

Having an Informationist embedded in your Department certainly won’t make anyone's Radiation/Oncology experience less painful. However, having your nurse or doctor armed with the correct information right at hand could make the experience, the interaction, and the actual time spent between all parties involved become a bit more seamless, a bit more efficient. Then, maybe everyone could have a few extra moments to connect with that "higher power" spiritual shindig. Blog away, Ron. 


Alonzo LaMont     




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