Pottstown Memorial Medical Center Offers Support for Patients Undergoing Cancer Treatment - Cancer Accrediation Board Requires Patient Distress Screening Beginning in 2015

Pottstown, PA – March 9, 2015 – Being diagnosed with cancer can be devastating. Distress is common in patients, their family members, and caregivers. Feelings range from powerlessness, depression, and anxiety to poor concentration and feelings of being overwhelmed. In fact, distress can affect thoughts, behavior, and interactions with others.

Pottstown Memorial Regional Cancer Center Oncology Social Worker Melissa Mari Lombardi, MSW, LCSW, assesses the needs of each patient and understands that cancer affects each patient differently. In addition, she conducts a distress screening to evaluate and measure the level of patients’ distress and how it is affecting them. The screening is also used as a guide to refer patients to the appropriate treatment resource.

“Using the distress screening is a great tool that allows me to engage in conversation with my patients to access key needs that were not previously disclosed,” said Lombardi. “We are here to help our patients and their families find support to manage the day-to-day challenges of living with cancer.”

Psychosocial distress is a recognized and treatable component of having cancer. Emerging research suggests that screening for and addressing distress in cancer patients not only enhances quality of life but may also be associated with improved cancer outcomes.

As a Fox Chase Cancer Center Partner, Pottstown Memorial Regional Cancer Center has early access to new research discoveries on cancer prevention and treatment like this designed to improve outcomes for patients.

“This marks a significant advancement in cancer care, taking it beyond the clinical aspect. Fox Chase has always been committed to treating the whole patient, which encompasses emotional and psychological wellbeing,” said Karen Y. Mechanic, MD, Director of Psychiatry, Fox Chase Cancer Center. “To see this become a new criterion is truly exciting.”

Pottstown Memorial Regional Cancer Center is accredited by the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) as a Community Comprehensive Cancer Program with the Outstanding Achievement Award, as well as the American College of Radiation Oncology. Beginning this year, Pottstown and more than 1,500 other Commission on Cancer (CoC)-accredited facilities are required to implement screening programs for psychosocial distress as a new criterion for accreditation. The American Psychosocial Oncology Society, (APOS), Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW), and Oncology Nursing Society endorse the new standard, noting the vast impact it will have on patient care.

In addition to the ACoS, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has endorsed distress screening as a standard of practice for high-quality cancer care. NCCN practice guidelines use a briefing tool called the Distress Thermometer. Patients note their level of distress using a scale and define areas of their lives where they’re experiencing problems. Screening is used at diagnosis as well as at crucial points throughout their care where patients may be vulnerable to distress, such as the completion of treatment.

About Pottstown Memorial Medical Center
Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, a 232-bed, acute care hospital, is accredited by The Joint Commission. The medical staff includes 260 physicians representing 40 medical specialties and is committed to serving the healthcare needs of residents in Pottstown and the surrounding areas.

The hospital offers a full range of health services including inpatient and outpatient, medical and surgical, and diagnostic and emergency care, to name a few. A continuum of care is provided to patients through a dedicated team of physicians, nurses, staff and volunteers. Pottstown Memorial Medical Center strives to exceed patient expectations, while delivering compassionate, safe, quality care.


2013 Top Performers on Key Quality Measures by The Joint Commission


  • Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval for Hip and Knee replacement.
  • Blue Distinction Center for Hip and Knee from Independence Blue Cross

Primary Stroke Center:

  • Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval
  • Gold Distinction, AHA Stroke Association Get with the Guidelines

Regional Cancer Center:

  • Four time recipient of Accreditation with Commendation by the American College of Surgeons.

About Fox Chase Cancer Center Partners
Fox Chase Cancer Center Partners is a select group of community hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey affiliated with Fox Chase Cancer Center—part of Temple Health—to provide the latest in cancer research, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in their own communities. Fox Chase Cancer Center Partners offers patients, families, and their physicians enhanced resources to deal with the burden of cancer, including the newest clinical trials. Temple Health refers to the health, education and research activities carried out by the affiliates of Temple University Health System (“TUHS”) and by Temple University School of Medicine. TUHS neither provides nor controls the provision of health care. All health care is provided by its member organizations or independent health care providers affiliated with TUHS member organizations. Each TUHS member organization is owned and operated pursuant to its governing documents. To learn more about cancer and its effects on patients, their families, and caregivers, visit WWW.FOXCHASE.ORG.