Many people know the uneasy feeling of being in an unfamiliar place. In this type of situation we look for comforts that remind us of home and give us the sense that we’re not alone. Providing these comforts to patients who are traveling for medical treatment may not always be easy, but it’s always worth it to go the extra mile to ensure that they feel at home.
A non-English speaking teenager staying in the United States for three months to undergo medical treatment several times a week was living with her aunt. Her family was worried that she wouldn’t be able to relate with her aunt or English-speaking teens about issues important to her, so Colpitts contacted a local teenager who spoke the patient’s language. The Colpitts team arranged for the two teens to speak on the phone three times a week, just to chat about life and enjoy conversation.
Like language, food is a significant part of culture. A family that was coming to New York from a country in South Asia did not speak any English, so Colpitts arranged for an interpreter to meet them at the airport upon their arrival and travel with them to the hotel to help them check in. The interpreter located a grocery store near the hotel that sold food native to their country, and routinely visited the family to coordinate grocery deliveries from the store to their hotel. In this case, access to familiar food is an appreciated comfort. But sometimes patients need specific types of food to meet dietary restrictions. In a similar situation involving a family from a North African country, Colpitts was able to locate a grocery store with specialized products and arrange for the family to travel to and from the store with someone to assist them.
Comforts that make a foreign place feel like home cannot be underestimated. Small changes in a patient’s travel itinerary can make the difference in whether they maintain participation in clinical trials.