Patients with cancer make regular visits to Upstate’s Regional Oncology Center and become familiar to their healthcare providers. Some also bond with the people who help them get from the car to their appointments, the Upstate Cancer Center ambassadors who fondly refer to their ROC patients as ROC-ettes.
Strap a pedometer on an ambassador, and he or she logs from 10 to 12 miles per day. Mostly the job entails helping cancer patients from their cars – dropped off at the circle in front of Upstate University Hospital or in the parking garage across the street – and through a maze of hallways and elevators to get to the Regional Oncology Center, or ROC.
“It’s 11 minutes, one way, to get to the ROC from the lobby or the garage,” says Lisa Gaspe. She oversees the ambassadors, employees of the admitting department.
Access to the ROC was curtailed when construction began on the Upstate Cancer Center, which is taking shape on what once was the ROC parking lot, and administrators decided to provide ambassadors. They wear khaki pants with white shirts and navy blazers. They complete customer service training and learn from experts in physical medicine and rehabilitation how best to assist patients who are unsteady on their feet. They also receive training in registrar duties.
Gaspe says many patients at the ROC and throughout the hospital appreciate the ambassador service, which will soon begin at Upstate University Hospital’s Community campus.
Ambassadors cannot accept tips. However, they can point to the container in the hospital lobby that collects donations for the new center.