Pen Bay Oncology Social Worker
Virginia Vaitones Recognized Nationally
Virginia Vaitones of Tenants Harbor, oncology social worker at Penobscot Bay Medical Center's Cancer Care Center, has won a national award for her work.
Vaitones recently was tapped for a Leadership in Oncology Social Work Award, which recognizes an exceptional member of Association of Oncology Social Work, a 1000+ member international organization. The award is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
The award recognized demonstrated leadership through administration, education, clinical practice or research. Vaitones has been at Penobscot Bay Medical Center since 2007. She has been an oncology social worker in Maine since 1981.
"The Cancer Care staff is very proud of Ginny for her achievement. Ginny works hard to provide continuity of care for those we serve. We are so fortunate to have her in our department," said Holly Carlson, RN, OCN, nurse manager at the PBMC Cancer Care Center.
Vaitones is a graduate of Springfield (Mass.) College and has a master's degree in social work from Simmons College School of Social Work in Boston. Among her many accomplishments Vaitones is most proud of being invited in January 2010 to participate in an educational briefing on Capitol Hill, where she helped raise awareness among legislators and their staff about the new oral anti-chemotherapy agents, how they are changing oncology care, the difficulties cancer programs have in securing these medications and the huge financial burden they place on patients and their families.
Most recently, in addition to her work at PBMC, Vaitones has been a reviewer for the Lance Armstrong Foundation's patient education materials and a reviewer for the National Cancer Institute Patient educational booklet series.
"I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for this award, and feel that in Ginny's case, it is long overdue. Ginny's colleagues in Maine are so pleased about this honor," said Kerry Irish, program director at the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. Irish nominated Vaitones for the award.
"While many would be content, after nearly 30 years in the profession, to begin to 'coast' in their professional twilight years, Ginny continues to serve as a tireless advocate, both for the needs of oncology patients and also for those of oncology social workers," Irish wrote in her nominating letter.
"(Ginny) was instrumental in envisioning and developing the Board of Oncology Social Work Certification, serving first as chair and presently as coordinator. The benefits of the opportunity to attain board certification have been numerous for our members and for our profession as a whole, as it has resulted in an increased awareness of the value of oncology social workers both in their workplaces and on the national stage, where oncology social workers are now recognized as key informants on matters relating to the psychosocial needs of cancer patients," said Irish.