RRH, Davis open Cancer Center

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

RRH, Davis open Cancer CenterAfter months of planning, and years of mounting community need, the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, in affiliation with the University of California Davis Health Cancer Care Network, celebrated the opening of its Cancer Center this week.

Dignitaries from health care and the community were joined by UC Davis experts in what was universally hailed as a long-overdue expansion of service to our remote population.

“Anyone impacted with a cancer diagnosis knows that traveling into the jungles of L.A. is perhaps not the best thing for them,” said Dr. Scott Christensen, medical director of the Davis HCCN.

Drawing on the established network of healthcare professionals and volunteers associated with RRH, Christensen said that he anticipates a successful partnership.

While the initial services offered locally are an important first step, “the outcome that I think is going to be important to realize over time is that people will no longer have to leave this community to receive care. Almost 100 percent of oncology patients have had to in the past.”

RRH CEO Jim Suver said that while the hospital has made strides in its local capacity for detection and diagnosis, he is happy to be expanding local options for treatment.

Working with Davis gives the hospital “a premier partner with many proven successes, and the medical acumen to provide the highest quality of care — including clinical trials,” said Suver.

“Their enthusiasm and support for this project has been incredible.”

He also thanked the board for its commitment to, and investment in, providing local cancer treatment.

The opening of the Cancer Center comes closely on the heels of the new Crisis Stabilization Unit — as well as a spate of other clinical expansions in various stages of development.

Drawing insight from the 2016 community needs assessment, RRH has continued to prioritize expansions of service for the community, said Suver.

“RRH strives to look for the needed services that can be provided in a quality manner and are reasonably self-sustaining. Each additional service generally brings four new jobs to our community for each physician hired.”

In addition to the new staff, locals seeking care will meet with many familiar faces — including Shantell Utley, who has been a nurse in Ridgecrest for more than 20 years.

“We do not want patients to have to travel out of town for treatment when they are at their most vulnerable time in their life,” said Utley, who will manage and facilitate clinical operations in the infusion center and physicians’ office.

“My goal in opening the Cancer Center is to provide the highest quality of care to all cancer patients in our and neighboring communities.

“We want to care for them in their community while providing university-quality standards.”

Pictured: Ridgecrest Regional Hospital CEO?Jim Suver and Mayor (and cancer survivor) Peggy Breeden wield the scissors for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Cancer Center. Also on hand are staff from RRH?and affiliate UC?Davis Health Cancer Care Network. -- Photo by Rebecca Neipp

Story First Published: 2017-11-10