It’s been about two years in the making, but Sutter Coast Hospital now has a dedicated treatment center for Del Norte and Curry County cancer patients.

The hospital’s new infusion center serves four to five patients since it opened its doors on Monday, said infusion center Manager Jeannine Williams-Bernard. This, she said, will enable the center’s staff to take care of any opening glitches that may come up.

Once it’s fully operational, the infusion center will be able care for nine patients at a time, said Ellie Popadic, the hospital’s director of ancillary services and business development.

“It’s a calming tranquil location,” Popadic said.

Meanwhile, the hospital has taken its first step toward developing a comprehensive cancer care program, Williams-Bernard said Thursday. A credential imparted by the American College of Surgeons, being a comprehensive cancer center means the director is board certified in his or her specialty, Williams-Bernard said. It’s a credential typically found at hospitals in larger communities, she said.

“To the consumer it would mean they would have the confidence that they’re going to a place for their care that meets national standards,” Williams-Bernard said, adding the process takes about three years. “For employees, to me, it makes it a more desirable place to work in terms of knowing that you’re caring for people properly. For providers, it’s just kind of a benchmark standard everyone would want to reach.”

Sutter Coast Hospital began offering oncology services about a year ago, Popadic said. It hired oncologist Dr. Richard Adrouny roughly six months before that.

However, according to Rose Corcoran, the hospital’s chief nurse executive, infusion patients were treated in the same-day surgery area. They were treated in chairs that allowed them to recline, but having a dedicated space specifically for infusion treatments will be a quieter environment for patients, Corcoran said.

The infusion center will also offer treatment for gastrointestinal issues as well as antibiotic infusions, Corcoran and Williams-Bernard said.

According to Popadic, from design to completion it took more than two years for the hospital to build its new infusion center.

Sutter Coast had heard from physicians in the community who said their patients were traveling to Medford and Eureka for treatment, Corcoran said.

Curry County patients were traveling to Coos Bay for their cancer treatments, Williams-Bernard said.

“These are patients that do not feel like traveling,” she said. “Also, a nice benefit, is Dr. Adrouny will be able to see patients at our clinic (in Brookings) as well and if their treatment allows for injections they’ll also have that service there and not have to make the 30-minute trip down here.”

Although becoming a comprehensive cancer care center is a multi-disciplinary approach, including radiology, pathology, primary care and palliative care, the hospital will step up its community outreach, Popadic said. This includes providing education for community members and physicians on early screening options, she said.

The new Sutter Coast Infusion Center is at 780 E. Washington Blvd., Crescent City. For more information, call 707-464-8946 or visit suttercoast.org.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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