The Continuum of Caring

A Nurse’s Vision for Helping Adult Hematology / Oncology / Bone Marrow Transplant Patients Post Discharge

Cami Lenett, RN, MSN, OCN, is an Assistant Patient Care Manager for the Adult Hematology, Oncology, Bone Marrow Transplant inpatient unit, located on 11Long at the Parnassus campus. Her career at UCSF has been centered on 11 Long, beginning as a volunteer in 2002, as a RN in 2005 (graduating from the MEPN program) and then obtaining her Masters in 2008.

In speaking with numerous patients and caregivers, Cami realized the inpatients she cared for would recover, but still required treatments, education and support, ranging in duration from two weeks to six months, depending on diagnosis and treatment. The road to recovery often includes a multitude of required treatments / appointments including frequent clinic visits, lab draws, transfusions, education regarding medications, central line management, and possible readmission to UCSF for treatment of complications.

While undergoing such care, patients are required to stay within a 30- mile radius of UCSF and are often left on their own to find suitable, affordable housing.  This added responsibility / expense, coupled with the stress of dealing with a life-threatening illness challenges both the patient and family during a difficult time.  Unlike pediatric patients who have resources such as the Ronald McDonald House and Koret Family House, adult patients have limited temporary housing options in the Bay Area.

Her Vision

In response to this unmet need, Cami had a vision for Kokua Lodge, a non-profit organization that would provide temporary housing and built-in support services for this patient population. The name Kokua is a Hawaiian word, meaning “to comfort, care for and nurture,” which captures the intent of the organization and housing she has in mind. The lodge will ideally provide accommodations for 20 patients and their respective caregivers, in a clean, comfortable setting and accommodate their special needs. The lodge will also provide an environment where residents can engage in social and educational activities on-site, as they are often restricted from broader exposure given their immunocompromised status. Kokua Lodge will encourage patients to recover, become more knowledgeable about their illness, advocate for themselves, and build a peer support community.

Her Impact

Cami anticipates that Kokua Lodge will positively impact outcomes by decreasing readmission rates, increasing early recognition of complications and improving medication compliance rates. She hopes that Kokua Lodge is seen not just as housing, but as a more progressive concept for promoting wellness and support to cancer patients after hospitialization. She has been enlisting resources within UCSF to include other nurses from her floor, social workers, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc. to volunteer their expertise and develop focused services for the transitional time these patients spend between the hospital and home. Cami wants to provide support not only to patients, but also to their caregivers by including wellness education (yoga classes, gym memberships, etc), support services (emotional, psychological, social resources), and social connection (both with their loved one in need and to other caregivers).

Her Dedication

Cami’s dedication to her patients extends well beyond her current responsibilities as an Assistant Patient Care Manager.  She exemplifies UCSF Medical Center’s mission of caring and healing, through her work on filling this gap in the continuum of care for the adult Hematology / Oncology patients. Her passion to carry over the excellent in-hospital care to this transition time is not only profoundly needed, but will culminate in what Cami calls her “dream job” operating and fostering the success of Kokua Lodge.

Kokua Lodge was founded by Cami Lenett, where she functions as the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer.  The Board of Directors at this time consists of seven members, including the following UCSF colleagues: Karen Wong (11Long RN), Lloyd Damon, MD and Jeff Wolf, MD.
Kokua Lodge plans to seek payment on a sliding scale, based on patients’ insurance and ability to pay. Cami and her Board of Directors are in the process of developing a strategic plan at this time.

Kokua Lodge is currently seeking funding for its capital campaign, with the goal of raising $5-10 million to open their doors by the year 2015. There are many ways to support Kokua Lodge. To learn more, please visit the KoKua Lodge website or feel free to contact Cami at cami@kokualodge.org