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HAMC to build new cancer care center

By Staff | Aug 5, 2016

Heart of America Medical Center held a public, informational meeting Thursday, July 28 about its plans for a new cancer care center.

Kelsey Nelson, from the Foundation center in HAMC, helped write the Community Facilities Grant that will be funding the center. The grant will allow for $100,000 to cover the cost of building and other expenses in creating the center.

“We wanted to kick off this program by holding this meeting and allowing you to ask questions,” Nelson said, opening the meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the W.R. Fox Auditorium.

Mary Kay Miller and Jeremiah Lindgren ran Thursday’s meeting, explaining what costs the grant will be covering, what exactly the new center will provide, and what the community as well as the hospital care providers can expect from this project.

The plan is to build an infusion suite with two chairs and a new pharmacy compounding area with certified pharmacists to make chemotherapeutic medications. The center also plans to partner with oncology groups in the surrounding area to provide needed services.

New standards and certifications will be put into place, with some training already completed by current pharmacists. “Chemotherapy drugs are hazardous. The reason for the new standards are to protect the staff giving out the chemotherapy medications,” said Miller, Director of Nursing in the Acute Care Nursing department.

Nurses in the new center will be trained and certified in chemotherapy protocol in order to meet the new standards that will be set in place.

“We would maintain that through continued education,” Miller said. “Most of it can be done online, so that’s really nice.”

Current nurses within HAMC will be trained, but administration is always looking to hire.

One of the advantages of this new certification is where it puts the center on the list of hospitals with this type of care. “There are less than a handful of places that will actually be certified with this certification, so we’re leading the pack,” Lindgren said.

The cancer care center will be located in the Acute hospital wing on the ground floor, where a negative pressure room with access to the outside will be built to hold the chemotherapy drugs. Most of the grant money will be funding the building of this negative pressure room.

HAMC will be reaching out to other area hospitals, as well, to let them know the care center is available in close proximity.

“The community has been asking for and needs this service,” Lindgren, Administrator at the Johnson Clinic, said. “[The center] will be here so that patients don’t have to drive so far to get their treatments.”

The goal is to provide help for those not only in the Rugby area, but also for those in closer surrounding areas in order to eliminate long distance travel to Minot, Grand Forks, Fargo, and further locations.

The service will be available to patients in places such as Harvey, Devil’s Lake and more.

“We’re really excited and looking forward to working with our area providers to help keep our patients here in Rugby,” Miller said. “Hopefully this will attract new patients to our hospital.”

The latter part of the meeting was open for the community members who attended to ask questions and express concerns about the new center.

Laneta Pieterick said she was interested in the project because of the help it will be to the community, in terms of cutting down travel to outside treatment locations. “I’m looking at it for the convenience and to drop down the mileage,” she said.

The call to action was for community and staff members to spread the word that the center will soon be available. “I would just like everyone to spread the word and let everybody know that we’re here to help everybody, and that’s what we like to do here,” Miller said in closing.

Plan for construction is scheduled to start in September, with a completion date in early 2017.

Community members are encouraged to call Heart of America Medical Center with questions.

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