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Cancer Treatment Services Expand at GRH

Hospital news | Thursday, November 11, 2010

Contact: Mardi Ford

Cancer treatment services are expanding at Grande Ronde Hospitalwith the creation of an Outpatient Oncology and Infusion Clinic.

The new Outpatient Oncology and Infusion Clinic will have space for approximately seven patients, private examination rooms, a nurse’s station, a waiting area, bathroom, physician’s office and much more. Construction begins in November and should be finishedearly inthe New Year and will cost approximately $175,000.

When GRH began offering outpatient oncology services in 2008, the expectation from Walla Walla oncologist Seymour Bronstein, MD, was that the clinic would grow to serve approximately 12 patients a week. At that time, the space set aside in the SurgiCenter – the Hospital’s day surgery wing – seemed more than adequate.

Within six months, however, the demand had exceeded the estimate. Today, the clinic serves approximately 25 to 30 patients every week – more than twice than what was originally anticipated. In addition, Dr. Bronstein augments his weekly visits to Grande Ronde Hospital with telemedicine consults, saving patients another needless trip.Surgical services nurse manager April Brock, RN, attributes the growth to underestimating the demand for local care and to the quality of that care.

Because cancer patients typically have all of their lab work and associated testing at the facility where they receive treatment, GRH had no history with, or numbers of, local cancer patients on which to base demand.

“We did underestimate how prevalent cancer is in Union County,” says Brock. “But I’m also pleased to say the standard of care we offer assures our patients they can stay right here at home and still receive a high standard of care. We have an oncologist who physically oversees the clinic, and our oncology nurses put their hearts and souls into this. Our patients let us into their lives at their most vulnerable time. It’s a privilege to care for them.”

Finding the room to expand the clinic in a facility where space is at a premium took time. Last fall approval was given to convert the Mount Harris Conference room to a multi-use space for the weekly oncology clinic, while infusion therapies that are now typically done in the Emergency Department will use the space during the ret of the week.

“This is really a great solution to several issues,” says Doug Romer, RN, Grande Ronde Hospital’s executive director of patient care services. “We provide a better environment for our cancer patients and we alleviate some of the burden on an already crowded ER.”

Although the design details have not been finalized, GRH’s project manager Tim Wilcox is doing his homework on what will serve patient needs best by visiting other facilities and by thinking outside the box.

“It seems to me that this is a time in these people’s lives that is really stressful. Sometimes they’re here for hours for their treatments. So we want to create an environment for them that is safe and comfortable. We want each patient to have their own personal space, but also have the option to socialize,” he says.

Having those options is important to Brock, who is also focused on keeping patient needs at the heart of the project.

“We know our patients. Some of them are very private and they need an intimate and personal space. Others are more social. They see each other every week and they bond. If the space separated them, they would find a way to get closer together,” she says.

The Grande Ronde Hospital Foundation has pledged $43,000 toward the expansion project. More then half way to its goal, the Foundation has received generous support from Hospital employees, past annual donors, the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign and others.

To help support the expansion of the Outpatient Oncology and Infusion Clinic, contact the Foundation at 541-963-1431.