Infusion Clinic provides chemotherapy close to home

Infusion Clinic provides chemotherapy close to home

From L-R: Registered Nurse (RN) Danielle Potter, RN Christy Sanders, Administrative Assistant Anna Sawyer, RN Darbie Kemper (surgery manager), and Pharmacist Corinne Huseby are among the staff members who make Harney District Hospital’s Infusion Clinic a success. Not pictured: RN Sam Palmer, Pharmacist Jessica Horrell, and Pharmacy Technicians Olivia Wilson and Lauren Witt are also an essential part of the team.

Now serving about 10 chemotherapy patients a week, Harney District Hospital’s (HDH’s) Infusion Clinic has been back in business for almost a full year.

HDH began offering chemotherapy infusions in 2008. However, those services were briefly put on hold so that the pharmacy could be remodeled to meet new guidelines that went into effect in 2020. The remodel, which began in 2019, included the addition of two isolation rooms to allow staff to safely prepare medications. Now, chemotherapy drugs are prepared for each patient in a specialized “hood,” called a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC). The BSC is connected to an independent ventilation system that uses high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration to protect the workspace. The remodel (along with certification and training projects) protects patients and hospital staff from potential contamination or exposure to hazardous drugs.

Chemotherapy infusions resumed in the HDH Infusion Clinic shortly after the remodel was completed and certified in January 2021.

In addition to serving patients from every corner of Harney County, the HDH Infusion Clinic has been an essential resource for patients from John Day, Prairie City, Mount Vernon, Seneca, Christmas Valley, Long Creek, and other remote communities. The clinic served more than 450 patients in 2021, providing more than 40 infusions in December alone. In addition to providing more than 30 different types of chemotherapy infusions, the HDH Infusion Clinic offers injections, intravenous (IV) medications, port flushes, and IV fluids.
The clinic’s chemotherapy infusions are provided by four trained nurses: Sam Palmer, Christy Sanders, Darbie Kemper, and Danielle Potter. Danielle, who is new to the Infusion Clinic, recently completed her online classes and a three-day training course in Bend.

All of HDH’s oncology patients receive their first dose of chemotherapy from St. Charles Cancer Center or BMC Cancer Center. Before receiving their first dose, cancer patients are connected to chemotherapy education, multiple wrap-around services (such as dietary and pharmaceutical services), and a social worker who can help them navigate their care. The HDH Infusion Clinic works closely with St. Charles and BMC to provide subsequent chemotherapy infusions so that patients can receive care closer to home. Before each chemotherapy infusion, HDH staff review the patient’s blood work and discuss their treatment plan with their oncologist. This close working relationship helps ensure that local cancer patients receive quality, continuous care without having to make multiple 200-plus-mile trips to Bend and back. Additionally, one of St. Charles’ oncologists comes to NewSun Energy & Harney District Hospital Specialty Care Clinic once a month to see local cancer patients.

Never the less, local cancer patients occasionally need to travel to Bend to receive care. Fortunately, those who need help covering the cost of travel expenses (such as gas, meals, and lodging) can access assistance through CAN Cancer of Harney County. Administered through HDH’s Outreach Department, CAN Cancer is a nonprofit organization that provides community assistance to help cover nonmedical expenses for Harney County residents fighting all forms of cancer.

HDH is proud to provide these services to accommodate local cancer patients and looks forward to continuing this close-to-home care well into the future.

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