Caring for pediatric cancer patients during storm

Dr. Tim Porea, associate professor of pediatrics – hematology and oncology and clinical director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, was part of the ride-out team at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, remaining at the hospital to coordinate care for patients for seven days.

Dr. Tim Porea

Dr. Tim Porea

Throughout the course of Harvey, Porea led a team of 15 faculty and fellows charged with figuring out the needs of each patient who was not able to visit the clinic for care, whether it be long term or immediate, as well as the treatment of the roughly 80 children in inpatient care.

“Our focus turned to triage as we coordinated patient care to manage the clinic closures. I was working with a great team to review charts and determine which patients could come in at a later date for treatment and which needed to be seen immediately at another location or even in another city, in the case of evacuees. It was a huge team effort to call and reschedule 500 to 600 patients,” Porea said.

The 22-year Navy veteran drew on his experiences during his service, which helped prepare him to think quickly, create an organized plan and delegate tasks efficiently. Porea stayed in touch with all faculty and fellows through regular email updates and made sure clinics were ready to run at full steam when they reopened, beginning with chemotherapy admissions on Thursday, regular appointments and procedures Friday and an additional clinic day on Saturday to help make up lost appointments.

“I learned a lot about communication, and how important patience is in times of crisis,” Porea said. “I had the opportunity to work with people I don’t normally interact with, and learned first-hand that those who have to calmly pick up the phone and walk patient families through an appointment rescheduling with grace and reassurance are true unsung heroes.”

-By Allison Mickey