Rabih Yehya was drawn to cancer care as a nursing student. Intensely interested in treatment for cancer and the difference it can make for many patients, he decided to pursue specialized training to learn how to care for patients throughout their journey with this disease. Today, Rabih is the Clinical Team Manager of Oncology and Palliative Care.
Growing up in Lebanon, Rabih remembers adults being very fearful and referring to cancer as the “bad disease” — the word cancer was rarely said out loud. Looking back, Rabih wonders if that is what, in part, drove his curiosity and his desire to learn more about cancer as an adult.
His experience and perspective certainly make him more understanding of how different cultures react to a cancer diagnosis. Within North York General Hospital's (NYGH) diverse community, he sees that many people still have an aversion to talking about cancer. But in his role, he aims to make patients and families feel at ease and supported when they come for their treatment at the Anne Tanenbaum Chemotherapy Clinic within NYGH's Baruch/Weisz Cancer Centre.
Over the past 14 years Rabih has held various role in a number of different cancer centres, including paediatric cancer care at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For three years, Rabih was the Charge Nurse in the Chemotherapy Clinic; during this time he also pursed his Master's degree in Health Studies.
Patient- and family-centred care
In his role as Charge Nurse, Rabih helped to make sure the care patients and families received felt seemless. One of the ways he achieved this was by doing his best to return all patient phone calls by the end of each day, regardless of how busy the clinic was.
“We tell patients that we are a phone call away — and they know they can count on us,” said Rabih. “Patient and family satisfaction is very important to the team, so we go the extra mile to make sure we get everything right, from a convenient appointment time to providing an environment that is warm and supportive when they come for treatment.”
At North York General's Baruch/Weisz Cancer Centre, patients and families get to know the whole cancer team from reception, to pharmacy, to nurses and physicians. Together the team helps patients and families navigate the health care system.
Rabih's new responsibilities as Clinical Team Manager for Oncology and Palliative Care offer him the opportunity to infuse his patient-centred, service-oriented approach to our inpatient units. He now oversees the Oncology/Palliative Care Inpatient Unit, the Freeman Centre for the Advancement of Palliative Care, as well as the Baruch/Weisz Cancer Centre which includes the Chemotherapy Clinic, Oncology Clinic, Satellite Chemotherapy Pharmacy, and the Pain and Symptom Management Clinic.
“I believe that patients and families want their health care team to work with them, not dictating goals or outcomes, but to help them make informed decisions, set their health goals and achieve what is important to them personally,” said Rabih. “That is very much what we do here in the NYGH Cancer Care Program and how we develop deep and trusting relationships.”