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Cancer & convenience?
By LISA BRITTON
Cancer patients in need of chemotherapy treatments no longer have to make the trip to Fruitland or Boise.
The Billie Ruth Bootsma Clinic opened in September 2011 in a remodeled wing at St. Alphonsus Medical Center-Baker City to provide a variety of infusion services.
By October, the clinic was offering chemotherapy treatment thanks to an affiliation with Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande.
Dr. Maynard Bronstein, an oncologist, relocated to La Grande in September, and since October has been spending Fridays in Baker City.
“We’re trying to bring quality care to the whole area,” said Laura Huggins, information specialist at St. Alphonsus-Baker City. “It was something we felt the community needed.”
Prior to the clinic opening, patients in need of chemotherapy drove to Fruitland or Boise. Although treatment schedules vary by case, an example of a regime is one treatment every three weeks.
“Now most chemotherapy is done as out-patient,” Bronstein said.
Some take only an hour.
“But some of the regimens take six to seven hours. They’re here all day,” he said.
To offer chemo, registered nurse Jennifer Gonzalez, completed special training and the hospital pharmacy was outfitted with a special vent.
And, in case bad weather makes in impossible for Bronstein to make the trip, the clinic has a robot that can provide live consultations.
This “telemedicine” also connects the clinic to specialists in Boise.
Services offered at the clinic include:
Prior to the clinic opening, a fund in Billie Ruth’s name helped under- and uninsured women receive mammograms. However, only 12 women per year utilized the fund, so the hospital met with the Bootsmas to discuss reallocating the fund for the infusion clinic, which could help more people.
(Women who need assistance paying for a mammogram can now apply to the hospital for help.)
As for the clinic’s design, comfort was key.
“We wanted it to have spa-like feel,” Huggins said.
The chairs are oversized and feature heated seats.
“They are top-of-the-line,” Huggins said.
One chair was funded by CHIP (Community Health Improvement Partnership) and the other with a donation from the Bronc and Bull Blowout.