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New Ulm Medical Center

STAR Program®—the gold standard in cancer rehabilitation

With early detection and advancements in treatments, more people than ever are living today as cancer survivors. This good news is accompanied by the challenges of regaining function and improving quality of life following a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Cancer survivors often struggle with the physical, cognitive or psychological side effects of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments. Because of the importance of these issues, the Institute of Medicine has declared cancer survivorship as a distinct phase of cancer care.

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Sister Kenny® Rehabilitation Institute (SKRI) is the first rehabilitation center in Minnesota to receive STAR (Survivorship Training And Rehabilitation) Program Certification. The program is now offered to cancer patients at the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute – New Ulm through SKRI – New Ulm. Four therapists at SKRI – New Ulm have received the STAR certification: (standing, l-r) Karole Lieb, OTR and Tammy Henle, PT; (seated, l-r) Mary Bauer, PTA and Shari Kotten, PTA.

STAR Program® Certification

Sister Kenny® Rehabilitation Institute (SKRI) is the first rehabilitation center in Minnesota to receive STAR (Survivorship Training And Rehabilitation) Program Certification. The program is now offered to cancer patients at the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute – New Ulm through SKRI – New Ulm.

The STAR Program was developed by Oncology Rehab Partners, whose co-founder Julie Silver, MD, is a Harvard Medical School physiatrist and a cancer survivor. The program provides an evidence-based model of cancer rehabilitation care.

Patients with cancer may develop medical concerns that include lymphedema, fatigue, skin problems, musculoskeletal pain, joint stiffness, weakness, cognitive problems, balance problems, and issues with communication, swallowing or eating.

“Cancer patients have different needs from other traditional rehabilitation patients, which requires a different rehabilitation skill set to most effectively care for them,” said Nancy Hutchison, MD, medical director, Sister Kenny Cancer Rehabilitation and Lymphedema Program.

Marlene Miller, a cancer survivor and patient in the STAR Program, agrees. “As a result of my breast cancer treatment,” she said, “I had lymphedema and other side effects. The Sister Kenny STAR Program has helped me with that, as well as with balance issues and side effects of medication, including joint aches and fatigue. I now have a quality of life I would not have had without Sister Kenny.”

At Sister Kenny, collaboration with the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute has been critical to the launch of the STAR Program. “The Virginia Piper Cancer Institute has shown leadership and vision to recognize the importance of survivorship and cancer rehabilitation and they have worked closely with us to break down access barriers for patients,” said Hutchison. The goal is to provide the gold standard of care in cancer rehabilitation.

STAR Certified Clinicians™

The STAR Program offers rigorous online, evidence-based training to rehabilitation clinicians and other health professionals. The 80 STAR Certified Clinicians throughout Sister Kenny’s nine hospitals and 14 other community-based locations include nurses, physicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists and care coordinators. At each STAR Program site within Sister Kenny, cancer survivors receive the same high level of cancer rehabilitation care and services. At SKRI – New Ulm, four therapists have received the STAR certification: Karole Lieb, OTR; Mary Bauer, PTA; Shari Kotten, PTA; and Tammy Henle, PT.

For more information on cancer rehabilitation services, select this link.