Our founder, Ken Schwartz, after whom the dinner is named, would have been so proud of the five individuals we will be honoring on November 8th because they represent the kind of caregivers who meant so much to him. They include:
- An oncologist who cares for patients with advanced lung cancer
- A nurse who brought palliative care into the coronary intensive care unit
- A nursing director who always puts patients first
- A surgeon who cares for children with life-threatening liver disease
- A gastroenterologist who inspires hope in patients and families
Over the next few weeks, we will be profiling our five finalists – beginning today with Konstantin Dragnev, MD, who works at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
A medical oncologist and associate professor of medicine who cares for patients with advanced lung cancer, Konstantin was educated in Sofia, Bulgaria, and came to the U.S. to work as a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute. He went on to become an internal medicine resident at Baylor Medical School and then did a fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center before joining the medical staff at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
While his clinical and research accomplishments are extensive, he says that the personal contact he has with his patients is what he values most. He is known as a role model for other doctors because of his genuine, caring nature and his extraordinary ability to communicate with patients. “I have a dialogue with the patients, not a monologue,” he notes.
In a letter from a patient’s daughter, she writes, “You took time to make sure every question from each and every one of us was completely answered, even if we asked the same question over and over again. We will never forget the evening you took hours away from your family to make sure Dad was OK. You became more than his doctor, you became a friend and a part of our family.”
Konstantin notes that for the majority of his patients, a cure is not possible. “With the diagnosis, a long journey begins for the patient, their family and friends. The technical aspects of lung cancer are only a portion of the overall care. I advise my patients to take one month at a time, with quality over quantity. Honesty and hope need to go hand in hand.”
This year’s Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award recipient will be announced at the Kenneth B. Schwartz Compassionate Healthcare Dinner on Thursday, November 8th, at the Boston Convention Center. The award is made possible through the generosity of Genzyme, a Sanofi company, and Sanofi Oncology.