Frazer is ‘a champion of patients and their families’

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For nearly 33 years, Debbie Frazer’s main goal has been to help people — whatever it takes. She was hired by UAB’s Comprehensive Cancer Center more than three decades ago as a medical oncology social worker and has since become an invaluable part of the team.

Now the outpatient oncology social worker for the Cancer Center, Frazer’s job involves making sure patients have access to the resources and patient care they need. This often involves interacting with patients of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, which her co-workers say Frazer has no issue handling.
Deborah Frazer STREAM
“She is always very polite in talking with patients about difficult matters,” said Hematology and Oncology Assistant Professor Amitkumar Mehta, M.D.

Co-workers said Frazer is extremely dedicated and skilled at finding workarounds or alternative ways for patients to continue on their treatment paths or receive specific medications.

“Debbie has been a champion of patients and their families in an area of service often overlooked by the health care system,” said Hematology and Oncology Associate Professor Mollie Deshazo, M.D. “She has been unflaggingly dedicated to patient care and improving resource allocation for patients within our division.”

“She works very hard to place patients onto assistance programs where they exist and will come to the doctors to make suggestions if there are less-expensive options for the patients,” Dr. Mehta said.

Frazer isn’t afraid to juggle responsibilities, even when they aren’t within her ordinary duties; for example, she has volunteered to assist in the hospital inpatient wards when staff were on maternity leave.

“Debbie is extraordinarily dedicated to her vocation,” said Hematology and Oncology Professor Lisle Nabell, M.D., who also directs the Hematology and Oncology Fellowship Program and is medical director for the Hematology and Oncology Clinics at The Kirklin Clinic and Acton Road. “She has one focus always — and that is to provide necessary resources to patients.”

She also is involved in service organizations like Susan G. Komen and UAB’s Cancer Center Patient Navigator program, a free service available to help patients and their family members navigate the health care system.

“It is all about helping patients and often that means working with groups and organizations both in and outside of UAB that provide information and resources to meet their needs,” Frazer said.

In the end, Frazer said knowing the importance of building and maintaining relationships is the foundation of her job, whether it’s with patients or co-workers. Sometimes, those things overlap, according to Jacquelyn Huey, a medical social worker in Hematology and Oncology.

Each month, UAB recognizes and outstanding employee for their dedication, hard work and contributions to the university’s success. If you know of a great employee, you can learn how to nominate them for this recognition and

“Debbie is one of the best social workers I know,” she said. “Even if there seems to be no answer, she will work until something can be done. She can always be reached by phone or page, and she is a person I turn to help with any situation.”

Frazer said it is an honor to be able to work with so many people during her career at UAB.

“My life is so rich because of the opportunity to come in contact with so many professional people and have some small opportunity to answer a question, point someone in the right direction, find resources, clarify a patient’s concerns and priorities and help make their situation a little more bearable.”