Board tours McCreery Cancer Center
The Jefferson County Health Center Board of Trustees toured the new McCreery Cancer Center during its monthly meeting Monday evening.
“The maintenance department has worked very hard,” said Joneane Parker, vice president of clinical services. “Every department pulled together and worked their hearts out for this.”
Since the announcement in February that McCreery Cancer Center at Ottumwa Regional Health Center would be expanding to include a location at Jefferson County Health Center, a remodeling project has been underway so the business office and the south end of the Professional Clinic could accommodate the new center.
The new center features seven infusion stations, with wall-mounted flat-screen TVs and the best views of the campus’s pond and spouting fountain to the west and its neighboring historic Maasdam Barns to the south.
The infusion area’s open design allows the medical staff a view of all the patients from the central workstation in the middle of the room.
The McCreery Cancer Center also has office, patient and storage areas, plus a room where patients can try on and select wigs, hats, caps and scarves.
“Suzan Kessel has made a bunch to get us started,” said Parker. “There has been a real outpouring from the community since they’ve heard about this. … It’s all coming together. We’re just blessed.”
The new area isn’t quite complete yet; furniture and equipment still have to be moved in, but cancer patients have been receiving treatments at the health center since April in one of the cancer center’s smaller rooms.
“Patients have been very understanding,” said health center administrator and CEO Deb Cardin.
Between six and eight patients are being seen every Monday through Thursday when Dr. Praveen Vikas, a medical oncologist from the Ottumwa facility, is working. Plans are for him to be in Fairfield five days a week.
Cardin and Parker said the new cancer center is affecting the entire health center, including the lab and the pharmacy. For example, one of the health center’s pharmacists is spending six hours a day working on the chemotherapy medications required by the cancer center.
“I didn’t know it would take off like this,” said board member Tom Kunkle.
“I was concerned there would be a lag, but there hasn’t been,” said Parker.
Cardin said the McCreery Cancer Center staff is proud to be working in the new clinic and the Jefferson County Health Center employees are proud to have the unit here.
The McCreery family hasn’t seen the new clinic yet, but they have been invited to an open house planned for 4-6 p.m. June 26.
Previously, oncology services were offered one or two days a month in Fairfield by a visiting doctor from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, but health center personnel didn’t feel that was sufficient and called for more oncology services in the hospital’s strategic plan.
When the Ottumwa health center administrator inquired about partnering opportunities, Cardin suggested cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy is now provided at the McCreery Cancer Center at Jefferson County Health Center, while radiation oncology services remain at the McCreery center at the Ottumwa health center.