Thamara Hoefkens, care coordinator for paediatric oncology

As care coordinator for paediatric oncology, Thamara supervises young patients starting their treatment at PARTICLE. "As a patient, you are seen by so many different healthcare providers, in so many different locations, that it’s very convenient to have a contact person. We have the full picture."

First contact person

Thamara goes to work as soon as a patient is accepted for proton therapy. "Even before the patient starts, I have contact with the care coordinator or the attending physician at the referring centre. Together we consider how to organise everything, what additional treatments or tests are needed, and where to carry them out. Does the referring physician perform the clinical checks? Does our paediatrician? The purpose of that first contact is to establish what the radiation period will look like."

When it comes to what happens in paediatric oncology, I am usually the first contact person.

"From the start of the treatment, I am responsible for everything that needs to be planned at our paediatric oncology unit. This includes, for example, blood draws, broaching for specific tests, additional chemotherapy treatments, or patients coming here to wake up after a radiation session under anaesthesia. These are all things that I schedule. Some patients come to the paediatric oncology unit only occasionally, others are here every weekday. In that case, I will personally explain how follow-up is done during radiotherapy."

Coordinating role

A care coordinator has a wide range of duties and works with a lot of people. "What I like about my job is the variety, the fact that you never know what will come your way. I often sit behind my computer planning things, but I also see a lot of patients. I call parents to schedule appointments and I am in touch with the various healthcare providers in the hospital and the referral centres. Me and my two colleagues have a coordinating role between all those parties, and that’s how we make a difference for people who find themselves in such a difficult situation. Many patients come here five days a week, sometimes in the day clinic, sometimes on another floor, often with different care providers. As care coordinator, you can offer them an overview of all this information."

Last edit: 23 April 2024