NIH Clinical Center

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Patient recruitment and support

   

House of hope Patient Susan Butler salutes the “house of hope.” Diagnosed with
simultaneous advanced breast and ovarian cancer in 1995, Susan Butler, at 51, had
been told that her odds of surviving more than two years were less than 20%. She
had come to the Clinical Center and the National Cancer Institute, she told the
audience at the dedication of the Clinical Center’s new hospital, “to see if this
ultimate hospital, this place of last, best hope, might have an answer for me. I
remember very clearly how excited I was calling my family and friends, saying,
I’m accepted in the clinical trial! It was the day that my heart began to lift and a
feeling of hope came to me.”

As a volunteer in a complex clinical trial for ovarian cancer, she said, “I became immersed in this sometimes intimidating, enormous hospital and, like many patients, the size and complexity overwhelmed me.” But the people in the building changed that. “One by one, their skill and compassion lifted and supported me through prolonged and arduous treatment. One by one, they cheered me when I was exhausted. And one by one, they took the time to meet my ever-present needs, day and night.”

“Of course, the treatment was not all sweetness and light . . . but ecause you are treated here, you are sometimes in the company of many people who are far more ill than you are, who clearly will not have an ideal outcome. . . .You see all around you the full panorama of life and death, and with this reality comes, at times, enormous inspiration at the power of the human spirit. . . . It is the family of man here — in all its glory and misery, pain and celebration. It is real life, here in the House of Hope.

“This magnificent Clinical Center is first and last its people,” said Butler, “with brains and hearts dedicated to saving lives, prolonging lives, improving the quality of lives… special people of iron will who get up every day determined to do the best they know how for the sickest of people, those of us who come here, our hearts in our hands, hoping for a miracle. . . . I have had my miracle. I have lived to see my grandchildren, and I am the recipient of the enormous grace and wisdom of the NIH scientists and staff of this wonderful place. So I wish Godspeed to all who are treated and who work here in this house of hope… the magical place where science and compassion come together to save our lives.”

Butler made three wishes for the Center’s official birthday: that NIH receive the funding increases needed; that it find creative and meaningful ways to attract and retain the best and the brightest scientists and clinicians; and that every American be informed about the enormous resources available at NIH and the Clinical Center. “Sometimes I think this place is a dangerously well-kept secret. All too often, patients learn too late, or not at all, about the trials and research that take place here.”

 
Patient Susan Butler and Dr. John Gallin, Clinical Center director.
Patient Susan Butler and Dr. John Gallin, Clinical Center director, onstage during the dedication ceremony for the new hospital.
 
 

Map depicting home states of active Clinical Center patients.

Fragment of map depicting home states of active Clinical Center patients.
Patients come to NIH from every corner of America seeking answers to their scientific and medical
questions. Finding these answers through leading- edge clinical research is
the sole mission of the NIH Clinical Center,
guiding all of its activity.

 
  Patient activity        
           
Admissions 02
03
04
Admissions bar graph. 2002: 6538; 2003: 6782; 2004: 6944. 3.7% increase
2.4% increase
           
  New patients 02
03
04
New patients bar graph. 2002: 9453; 2003: 10,314; 2004: 10,733.   9.1% increase
4.1% increase
           
  Inpatient days 02
03
04
Inpatient days bar graph. 2002: 49,910; 2003: 53,725; 2004: 57,783.   7.6% increase
7.6% increase
           
  Average length of stay 02
03
04
Average length of stay bar graph. 2002: 7.7 days; 2003: 7.9 days; 2004: 8.5 days.   2.6% increase
7.6% increase
           
  Outpatient visits 02
03
04
Outpatient visits bar graph. 2002: 91,963; 2003: 98,769; 2004: 108,078.   7.4% increase
9.4% increase
     
 
  Workforce distribution
Pie chart: Nursing and other patient services 39%; Administrative and operations 20%; Clinical care 41%
The Clinical Center has a staff of about 2,000. Roughly 80% of the Clinical Center’s employees work with patients, as the following exhibit shows. Another 20% work in administration and operations.
 
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