A testament to Hoag’s prioritization of whole-person care, patients across specialties have access to a range of support groups and other opportunities to meet their unique health and wellness needs.
When people share their stories in support groups or workshops, there’s often a mutual recognition: I’ve been there, too.” It’s a bond of understanding that validates participants’ experiences and emotions, reassuring them they are not alone. Thanks to compassionate donors, Hoag creates and fosters these group environments, cultivating opportunities for camaraderie through interactions beyond those in the clinical setting.
For patients and families facing a significant diagnosis or loss, it’s important to have access to different outlets to express feelings of depression, anxiety, grief, and hope. For some, talking openly and honestly in a safe environment makes them feel less isolated and provides an improved sense of confidence in coping with health challenges. For others, art or meditation offer a pathway to healing.
A testament to Hoag’s prioritization of whole-person care, patients across specialties have access to a range of support groups and other opportunities to meet their unique health and wellness needs. This level of personalization in tending to body, mind, and spirit is the actualization of Hoag’s philosophy, in partnership with like-minded donors, that wellness should be your way.
It’s often people who have a hard time expressing themselves who end up getting the most out of the workshops. Through the abstract art and discussion, a lot of emotions come out.- Beth Otterbein, Hoag Faith Community Nurse
The Healing Power of Art
Hoag supports emotional healing through creative expression for patients recovering from traumatic health experiences, nurses with job-related stresses, caregivers, and staff alike living with stress, grief, pain, or fear. Hoag Faith Community Nurse Beth Otterbein facilitates Art4Healing painting workshops throughout Orange County, both at Hoag and at area churches, senior centers, and more. Beth guides workshop participants through a series of prompts to create paintings that help express their feelings. “It’s an opportunity to express yourself through abstract art and then sharing about the experience with the other participants,” according to Beth. These sessions are made up of intimate groups of up to 10 people. As a Hoag faith community nurse, Beth’s work is centered around fostering an individual’s faith and spirituality, nurturing the emotions that support their healing. “It’s often people who have a hard time expressing themselves who end up getting the most out of the workshops. Through the abstract art and discussion, a lot of emotions come out.”
Bladder Cancer Peer Mentorship Program
At the Hoag Family Cancer Institute, patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer are finding support through Hoag’s Bladder Cancer Peer Mentorship Program, which pairs patients with survivors who have undergone the same type of treatment. Led by Nurse Navigator Sandy Southerland, whose position is funded by Circle 1000, a dedicated group of supporters who have raised over $24 million for cancer care at Hoag, the program is the only bladder cancer support group in the county and interfaces with patients before and after treatment. In addition to community and care coordination, participants receive education on precision medicine, genetics, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and immunotherapy to ensure they have the resources they need to cope with every stage of their healing journey. To date, more than 60 patients have participated in individual and group mentorship through the program.
Hoag Wellness Consultant Anusha Wijeyakumar, MA, CPC, E-RYT, with support group participants at the Hoag Women’s Health Institute.
Women Helping Women Through Motherhood & More
At the Hoag Women’s Health Institute, the Maternal Mental Health (MMH) Program offers a wide variety of virtual support groups that meet twice a month. These include groups centered around prenatal support, postpartum support, mindfulness, pregnancy loss, pregnancy after loss, and family support for pregnancy loss. This year alone, Hoag has supported 775 people as of October 1.
To meet the increasing demand for therapy at the MMH clinic, Hoag began offering group therapy to new mothers in 2022. These six-week closed small-group cohorts run quarterly and are facilitated by a licensed clinical social worker. Each group of moms meets weekly to share difficult moments and build a network of support outside of sessions, providing women with the benefits of both support groups and therapy simultaneously. If further support is needed after six weeks, participants are referred to a psychiatrist for individual therapy.
Aortic Dissection Survivors Mend Hearts
Hoag’s Aortic Dissection Survivor Support Group connects survivors of this serious heart condition. Experiencing an aortic dissection not only necessitates a long physical recovery but also an emotional and mental one. Facilitated by a licensed nurse practitioner and genetic counselor from the
Elaine & Robert Matranga Aortic Center, the group provides mutual emotional support and information for aortic dissection survivors and their families through an encouraging network. To learn more about aortic dissection and Hoag’s Aortic Dissection Survivor Support Group experience, watch Heather’s story.
Connections Beyond a Condition
Hoag’s Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center is known for its collaborative peer support services, including groups and programs that focus on people with different types of diabetes and at varying stages of life. One of these is the Herbert Program for Young Adults with Type 1 Diabetes, which was created through generous philanthropic support. This program addresses the needs of young adults with type 1 diabetes through networking, support, and social events. As participants connect in non-clinical environments, they learn, encourage, and comfort each other by sharing similar circumstances.
Empowered by Philanthropy
A small sample of the resources available at Hoag, these support groups and programs allow patients and families to find relief from stress and grief that may be limiting to their overall health and quality of life. Without philanthropic funding, many of these groups would not exist. What makes Hoag so special is that donors, physicians, and staff alike have a shared vision for the future of health care and are equally invested in making that vision a reality for our community.
For more information on support groups at Hoag, visit Hoag Support Groups.
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