This October, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea’s cancer program is celebrating ten years of providing essential, compassionate care.
“When I’m speaking to donors and community members, one of the most commonly talked about services is our cancer program,” said Nancy Graebner, President, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. “The Cancer Center and our comprehensive cancer services are something so many in our community are proud of and grateful to have so close to home.”
When it comes to cancer, we know the facts. More than 1.8 million cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2020. Nationally, overall cancer incidence is anticipated to grow 11 percent over the next five years, and 21.3 percent over ten years. In the United States, 39 percent of women and 38 percent of men will develop cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, the five-year survival rate for all cancers combined has increased substantially since the early 1960s.
“When the hospital first opened, we provided some care for those with cancer through surgical oncology,” Graebner said. “Yet, the hospital and our community recognized the need for more oncology services, and we began a formal cancer program in 2010 with medical oncology and infusion services.”
At that time, the infusion program only had two nurses, one physician, one nurse practitioner and one medical assistant. There were only a few infusion bays and the program was located inside the hospital’s Professional Office Building. Chemotherapy drugs were mixed in Canton and brought to Chelsea each of the three days infusion treatments were offered.
Much has changed since those early days. The cancer program has grown to provide infusion treatments five days a week, offer radiation oncology, include many more nurses, physicians and staff and the program is much more comprehensive. Services now include:
- Medical oncology
- Radiation oncology
- Surgical oncology
- Nurse navigation
- Social work
- Spiritual care
- High risk and genetic testing
- Support groups
Much of this growth was possible with the opening of the Cancer Center in 2014. A $6 million dollar fundraising campaign made the Cancer Center a reality – allowing further expansion of cancer services with a state-of-the-art cancer center built to maximize healing with scenic views, natural light and soothing décor. The Cancer Center includes more treatment bays and private treatment rooms large enough for loved ones to be near-by. Chemotherapy mixtures are now made inside hospital walls, increasing efficiency and decreasing a patient’s wait time. In addition, radiation oncology services came to Chelsea so patients no longer needed to drive to Ann Arbor or other communities for radiation.
“It is an honor to work in Chelsea and to have been a part of the start up of the new Cancer Center,” said Shirley Boorom, RN, Nurse Coordinator, Oncology Infusion Center, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. “We are blessed to have devoted, caring and professional staff. The patients were so excited and thankful to have a Cancer Center so close to home and not have to drive so far. The community support continues to be unbelievable and inspiring.”
Engaged donors and patients set a vision of comfort and service for the Cancer Center that was carried out through a beautiful lobby featuring a fireplace, current magazines, coffee, water, fresh fruit, carefully selected artwork, iPads, breakfast and lunch deliveries upon request and heated chairs. Patients and visitors are also greeted by a concierge who ensures flesh flowers, fruit and special gift bags are always available. The concierge also helps with unexpected needs – assisting with child care coordination, offering transportation options, holding an umbrella and more as they walk each patient through the unique journey.
“It’s the little touches that make a true difference,” Graebner said.
While St. Joe’s Chelsea is certainly proud to have a growing cancer program and provide this care close to home, it’s the quality of care that the organization is most proud of. The Cancer Center continuously receives high patient safety and satisfaction scores, and has nurses who are all chemotherapy certified. The program continues to evolve – changing processes and services to meet patient needs. One example is the launch of lab services in the cancer center, enabling patients an easy one-stop-option for blood draws and treatment.
“As a nurse who has worked at Chelsea since 1994 and lived in this community since 1985, it was so exciting for the hospital to have their own cancer and infusion center,” said Johanna Kruse, RN, BSN, OCN, Nurse, Infusion Center, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. I have been part of this from the beginning and it is an honor to watch it grow and become what it is today.”
Cancer Center Fast Facts:
- 80 patients per day; 20,800 visits per year
- 30 radiation oncology visits per day; 8,000 per year
- 30 infusion treatments per day; 8,000 per year
- More than 100 clinical trials available at any time
- Program has grown from 2,500 patient visits in fiscal year 2015 to 8,000 in fiscal year 2020