Cancer Care

 Cancer Care

Kettering Health Network to open comprehensive cancer center.

By Ginny McCabe

Jennie Stockslager, a patient advisory council member and a cancer survivor, says she has worked closely with a team of about 30 survivors, active treatment patients and caregivers of cancer patients who have picked out everything from interior finishes like fabrics, carpeting, wall coverings and artwork to programmatic design for the state-of-the-art cancer center.

“They really did listen to us,” Stockslager says. “They’ve asked us about every facet of a journey after receiving a cancer diagnosis, every question you can imagine.

“Then, they brought back plans and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, they’ve got that beautiful ceiling in the radiation room,’ because we said, ‘Isn’t there something better we could look at than ceiling tiles?’” They really tried to anticipate the needs that patients may have, she says. 

“I recognized that this is something that could make a difference in future patients’ lives, so that’s what inspired me to want to participate,” Stockslager says.

Connected by a sky bridge and located across the street from Kettering Medical Center, the 120,000-square-foot, five-story comprehensive care facility will open to its first patients on Dec. 13.

“We are the only cancer center in the area that has a connection to the flagship hospital. The important part of that connection is that our patients will have access to our emergency center and trauma services, our surgical center and operating rooms and our ICU, so that’s what increases the level of care that we can provide in this cancer center,” says Elizabeth Garrison, executive director, Cancer Services, Kettering Health Network.

“This cancer center is a direct response to the needs of our community as people are diagnosed with cancer,” she says. “It is not convenient to travel out of town for cancer services, and when we offer world-class care right here it is our responsibility to expand appropriately so we can meet the needs of the people as they experience this diagnosis.

“The benefit of Kettering Health Network is that we are a faith-based organization, addressing the treatment of mind, body and spirit. So, it’s not enough for us to just treat the body, and neglect the mind and the spirit, and the impacts that a diagnosis like this has on a person,” says Garrison.

Above and beyond the close-to-home treatment, the cancer center will allow for better coordination of care and for collaboration among doctors, pharmacists, dietitians and social workers, among others.

With the support of hundreds, including physicians and staff members to architects, community members and the patient advisory council, a full range of cancer-specific amenities have been created to meet the needs of cancer patients and their families. One example is a café that focuses on the nutritional needs and tastes of cancer patients.

“The café is so important to the cancer center, because it is food specifically designed for the patient. Your nutritional needs change dramatically during treatment, including your reaction to taste and smell. Your body needs the fuel to fight, and it’s difficult to achieve that when you are repulsed by the textures and smells of food. Our chefs from the Kettering Health Network have worked closely with our patient advisory council to develop a menu that has been designed by patients for patients to make sure we have the nutritional components needed for the food that’s served within the building, and it tastes amazing,” Garrison says. 

Another amenity is a specialized boutique in a spa-like environment, which will offer women post-surgical products, including apparel and high-end wigs. There will also be a dedicated, outpatient pharmacy. 

Garrison says, “One of the things that people don’t realize is that there’s a trend in health care, and cancer services now, where there are more and more oral chemotherapy drugs that are available, but they are hard to get. You can’t just take your prescription to a local pharmacy and get these prescriptions filled. So, compliance to the treatment regimen is difficult to achieve, simply because patients can’t get ahold of the medication. It was a goal of ours to ensure that we had a specialty outpatient pharmacy in the cancer center so patients leave with the medications they need to combat this disease.”

If a patient gets an ‘iffy’ mammogram, or if a test comes back suspicious, they will be able to visit the Kettering Breast Evaluation Center inside the cancer center to have biopsies or ultrasounds done and be able to take the next steps in understanding what the suspicion might be.

In addition to the full range of radiation and oncology services, other specialized features will include massage therapy, a chapel and educational rooms dedicated to support groups as well as marital and family counseling. There will also be space reserved on the second and third floors to accommodate for further expansion and the future of medicine. 

“There is new research that comes out every single day. There are technological advancements and we wanted to make sure we gave ourselves an opportunity to react, to embrace technology and to install it,” Garrison says.

The fifth floor will have the area’s largest infusion treatment center with 46 infusion bays, mixed with a combination of private and semi-private infusion rooms. 

“We will start transitioning into the building in November, so we are really excited about the next 90 days,” Garrison says. 

As a supplement to the cancer care already available at the hospital, Kettering Cancer Center will focus on five disease areas—breast, lung, prostate, gynecological and gastrointestinal cancers. These represent the top three to five disease sites in terms of numbers of patients diagnosed. Tied to high smoking rates in Ohio, lung cancer is the highest diagnosed form of cancer, annually, followed by breast cancer and prostate cancer. 

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