Compassionate Patient-Centric Care
Dr. Nicholas Marko
As the region’s only fully-integrated, multidisciplinary program focused on treating patients with benign and malignant tumors of the brain, pituitary gland and skull base, the University of Cincinnati (UC) Brain Tumor Center continues to deliver world-class clinical care via its top-notch technical and surgical expertise, state-of-the-art treatment options and access to the latest clinical trials.
“Cancer is increasingly becoming a disease that affects not only multiple aspects of a person’s body and a person’s life, but their family’s lives as well,” says Dr. Nicholas Marko, Brain Tumor Center director and a neurosurgeon for UC Health. “Our first concern is how we can bring together all our available resources so that we can deliver patient care in the most cohesive, uniform, well-integrated fashion possible.”
From the point of diagnosis through treatment and post-treatment management, the UC Brain Tumor Center, with its diverse team of physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses and other healthcare professionals, is wholly dedicated to the compassionate management of patients with brain tumors, Marko notes. The center’s clinicians have unparalleled resources and the latest technologies for advanced diagnostic imaging, complex surgery, radiosurgery and radiotherapy, chemotherapy, in-patient and outpatient follow-up care and neurologic rehabilitation. Multi-disciplinary brain tumor clinics are located at both the Clifton and West Chester campuses, where patients are seen by their neuro-oncologist, radiology oncologist and brain tumor neurosurgeon, all in one location at the same time.
“We believe in following the concierge model of patient care, bringing all of a patient’s needed clinical expertise to the patient, so that complex decision making can be made during a single visit, making sure treatment decisions are made in a timely, efficient manner,” Marko explains. “It’s an important part of the services we offer in addition to state-of-the-art treatment, equipment and research. The undercurrent of overwhelming concern for our patients and their experiences with us is just part of our DNA.”
Additionally, the Brain Tumor Center’s nurse navigator, Jamie McDermott, serves as a “unified point of contact” for all patients, Dr. Marko says. “She works with all of us and for all patients, answering their questions about symptoms, meds, appointments, logistics, scheduling, imaging, etc. Basically, she’s someone whose job is to advocate for and support our patients. Each patient is given the nurse navigator’s direct phone number and a promise they will not get bounced around. Jamie works behind the scenes on a patient’s behalf to get quick answers.”
Dr. Marko also cites physician assistant Scott Everhart as a critical part of his surgical team at the UC Brain Tumor Center.
The Worst Day of Their Lives
When patients are told they have a brain tumor, it’s most likely the worst day of their lives, and they’re understandably scared and confused and they don’t want to sit around waiting for answers to their many questions,” Dr. Marko says. “At the Brain Tumor Center, we can see you the same day, or the next day at the latest. There should never be a delay. Tumors move quickly, but we move quicker. We get things arranged for our patients before they have surgery so they’re not running around trying to coordinate everything themselves. We get patients the care they need right away.”
As director of the Brain Tumor Center, it’s been Dr. Marko’s goal to ensure patients never have to leave the
Cincinnati area to receive the utmost in quality care.
“Everyone knows UC Medical Center is the biggest academic medical center in the region, and that we take care of the sickest patients with the most complex cases. I want to make sure everything our patients need is available here – the latest in technology, radiation, surgery, and chemotherapies, as well as the latest in clinical trials,” he says. “Clinical trials sometimes offer a last line of hope for patients, and we’ve been very aggressive in adding new clinical trials to our portfolio.”
A Patient-Centric Care Promise
“At the UC Brain Tumor Center, we put ourselves in our patients’ shoes,” Dr. Marko adds. “We ask ourselves, ‘How would we want to be cared for?’ I’m an inherently impatient person when it comes to information. When I know information exists, I want to know it, right now. It never happens fast enough. I imagine our patients feel that same urgency. We recognize that patients have a relentless need to know everything about their diagnosis as soon as possible. As much as a patient wants our foot on the accelerator, so do we.”
The Brain Tumor Center’s patient-centric care doesn’t come to a screeching halt after surgery, or after radiation or chemotherapy is completed, he says. “After-care is every bit as important. Life can be full of challenges that can derail an otherwise successful recovery. We are very much committed to being there for all of our patients throughout the course of their individualized care. We connect them with social workers, case managers, financial counselors, etc. There is no issue a patient might be having that we won’t help them with. I always tell patients, once they’re in the system they never really leave, that we will be with them at any point. They’ll always have a home base here, an anchor. We’re never more than a phone call away.”
For more information on the UC Brain Tumor Center, visit