"In psychology, the fellowship year is the last year of training before becoming an independent practitioner. It is an integral year of training as it allows trainees to further develop skills in a specialized area. As a clinical psychology fellow at Columbia University Medical Center, the Valerie Fund has allowed me to grow exponentially as a clinician and feel prepared to enter a career as a pediatric hematology, oncology, and stem cell transplantation psychologist. I have had the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Steinberg and learn ways to better support our patients and their families both in the clinic and hospital. Through working as a team, we have been able to reach even more patients and also provide support to the parents and siblings."
"Working at the Valerie Fund Children's center for almost 30 years, I realize that I am so very thankful, because each and every day, I get to go to a job that I absolutely love, am passionate about, and gives me so much back in return. The psychosocial support that the Valerie Fund supports assists our medical team in giving family focused, comprehensive state of the art care, close to home. That truly makes a difference in our families lives!"
I believe the Valerie Fund is warm, welcoming and positive environment for our families to come to for treatment during such a difficult time in their life. Having a Hematology or Oncology diagnosis can be frightening and we strive to provide a safe place where families and siblings can feel free to visit, engage with staff and ask questions.
"It is such a great opportunity for St. Joseph's Children's Hospital to become a part of The Valerie Fund family. Expanding our current psychosocial services to provide more educational assistance, financial guidance and counseling services will be a benefit to our patients and their families. There is so much more to treatment of disease than medicine and nursing; child life and social work also play a very important role in successfully caring for patients. The Valerie Fund's generosity will go a long way towards expanding these services. We are all thankful for this new relationship and look forward to working together in the future."
From Carrie regarding SIRE:
The Valerie Fund's support will allow the School Intervention and Reentry (SIRE) team at Stony Brook Children's to continue facilitating educational services for children with cancer or blood disorders during and after illness. The team offers faculty and classroom presentations on the biopsychosocial needs of children and works with schools and families throughout Long Island to help children receive their education in the most productive setting possible. The program also works with colleges and vocational schools to help young adults meet their educational goals during treatment and in survivorship.
Being a part of The Valerie Fund will additionally permit the SIRE team to continue presenting its annual, "Educating the Educator," conference to school nurses, teachers, and healthcare professionals about the impact of childhood cancer and blood disorders on education.
We are thankful to The Valerie Fund for recognizing the important work of Stony Brook Children's School Intervention and Reentry Team and are excited about our partnership.
Being a part of the Valerie Fund means that our patients and their families are able to receive comprehensive care close to home that focuses on all areas of their life, not just their medical diagnosis. As a social worker, the Valerie Fund allows me to work with patients and their families during some of their most difficult times by providing supportive counseling services, assistance with navigating school challenges, becoming linked to community based resources, financial assistance, and more. The psychosocial services that are provided by the Valerie Fund truly makes a difference in the lives of our patients and families because they know that there is an interdisciplinary team that they can count on to receive the best possible care for their child. I am proud to be a part of such an incredible team.
"Providing an in-house service to our families that was previously unavailable to them and sometimes difficult to attain has been the biggest impact on the patient community. Working for The Valerie Fund is an incredible opportunity to merge my interest in both psychoeducational testing and my knowledge of school-based supports with the unique needs of our patients. I have been able to help sort out various questions about each child's learning styles and make recommendations to their parents and teachers. For example, one young elementary age boy had been struggling in school after his treatment. Through the psychological testing battery which includes cognitive and education testing, we were able to identify undiagnosed and hidden learning disabilities. Making specific personalized and individualized educational goals for this young boy helped his self-esteem, his perception of school and his parents and teachers understand what might be the best classroom approach."
The Valerie Fund truly understands the importance of treating the whole patient and the entire family, not just the disease. It is so important for patients with serious illness to have the support of an entire team focusing on a variety of different issues. I have worked at the Valerie Fund for many years and I feel so honored and proud to be a part of this amazing community. Our special patients are so grateful to have this network of support.
From Michelle regarding Survivorship Clinic:
It is so exciting that we are now a Valerie Fund Center! I'm looking forward to seeing our Oncology Survivorship Clinic patients benefit from a full team dedicated to supporting them and their families. Having a psychologist, social worker, child life specialist, registered dietician, and school intervention specialist on staff in addition to our amazing medical team will allow us to provide comprehensive care that aims to give our patients the greatest possibility for success, not only in overcoming their medical diagnoses, but also in becoming well-adjusted, happy adults. I'm honored to be a part of this new partnership!
"I had the opportunity to work with a 12-year-old patient from the very beginning of her diagnosis. I was able to accompany her to various tests her very first day at the hospital. I provided education about each test to her and her siblings. From this point on we developed a great rapport and she was able to express her fears and concerns regarding her treatment and diagnosis. I was able to collaborate with the medical team and address these concerns and clear up any of her misconceptions. Also, whenever she was admitted to the hospital I was able to spend time with her just hanging out and doing activities that she liked to help normalize her stay. I was also able to visit her when she had to go to another hospital, which was very intimidating to her since it wasn't staff that she was used to and I was able to speak with their Child Life team to help make the transition as easy as possible."
My name is Kristin Holtzman and I am a Certified Child Life Specialist working in the Valerie Fund Children’s Center at Goryeb Children's Hospital. I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Early Childhood Education from James Madison University and have been working in the field of child life at Goryeb Children's Hospital since 2004. My main interests within the field include procedural prep/education and therapeutic play to help with coping and normalization. I have chosen to work in The Valerie Center because the team there is amazing, and I love getting to know the children and families that are treated there while forming the therapeutic relationships that come along with that.
I am honored to be a part of The Valerie Fund Children’s Center at Goryeb Children’s Hospital. In this new and exciting role, being able to advocate for our patients to ensure timely and efficient care has shown improved patient outcomes by identifying and eliminating barriers starting at diagnosis throughout the trajectory of one’s illness. The Valerie Fund has made it possible for me to bridge the educational gaps between providers and patients, and help guide patients and caregivers to make informed medical decisions. I am so lucky to come to work everyday and work with our patients and thanks to the Valerie Fund we can provide our patients with individualized care coordination and help empower them to navigate today’s healthcare system.
"We are so excited that our patients will have the benefit of being a part of The Valerie Fund family. We provide excellent medical care for our patients, but the psychosocial piece is equally as important to the well-being of the child and the entire family unit. Many of these services, such as social work and child life, are not reimbursed by insurance. With The Valerie Fund's generosity, we can support our current social work and child life positions and we will add several new staff positions to ensure that the diseases they have and treatments they receive will not limit their success in school and in life."
"Extensive school absences makes the needs of a child with chronic illness different from other students and her advocacy protects from discrimination. "I work to advocate on behalf of our patients and their families to ensure interventions are in place in school so our patients are able to maintain their educational goals. I help our patients continue to be involved and active members of their school communities."During lengthy periods at home, visits back to school may be infrequent because of risk of infection and a comprised immune system so Kaitlin is available to educate classmates and ensure the student does not feel isolated."I believe that once a child begins school, it quickly becomes the center of his/her life. School provides a sense of consistency and fosters educational, social and emotional development. The Valerie Fund recognizes the importance of helping children stay involved with school."
"I am honored to be part of The Valerie Fund and all the incredible work that they do in offering services to these families who otherwise may not have access. The Valerie Fund has made it possible for me to reach families and educate them on what psychosocial services can offer them. Psychology has held a long-standing unfortunate stigma regarding therapy and what "needing therapy" implies. They can have a therapist with whom they really enjoy spending time and ultimately build a genuine, caring relationship through that process. When these families are going through the multitude of hardships associated with these medical illnesses, often they do not even realize some of their needs until they begin to be fulfilled. A person who can speak to their deeper emotions and align with them to really understand their struggle without judgment is an experience many people never discover until given the opportunity. "
I know I speak for the entire team when I say we are thrilled to be a part of the Valerie Fund team. I often say; "it takes more than medicine to get well". Providing comprehensive psychosocial care to patients with childhood cancer and their families is vital to their healing, and the Valerie Fund stands by this. By providing our patients with age-appropriate education, emotional support and therapeutic recreation, I am able to facilitate their adjustment to the hospital, and enhance their coping skills in the medical setting. Because of the Valerie Fund, we are able to give our patients and their families the individualized care they all deserve. I am so grateful for the support of the Valerie Fund. Thank you for helping us continue our mission to brighten the lives of children with cancer and their families.
"The Valerie Fund allows us to provide psychological care to patients right where they are, emotionally and physically. By being integrated into the medical team we can introduce services early, increasing acceptance of psychology as a member of the team, and not a service being called because something is "wrong." This increases buy-in and allows us to see patients both when things are going well, and also when things are difficult. We simultaneously see patients in our outpatient clinic and inpatient medical floors, bringing a sense of comfort and understanding to them, without the Valerie Fund this would not be possible!"
Allie Antosy, PhD
Isabella Calonico, CCLS
Carrie DeWan, LMSW, MSHPM
Megan Finney, LCSW
Dr. Heather Ginter
Maria Graminski, LCSW, APHSW-C
Michelle Graziano, M.Ed
Kristin Holtzman, CCLS
Ashley Mariconda MSN, RN, PED-BC, CPNP-PC
Dr. Jill Menell
Dr. Natalie Nageeb
Lauren Sharaby, MS, CCLS
Dara Steinberg, Ph.D.
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