Cancer Center brings services home

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Cancer Center brings services homeWith the opening of the Cancer Center at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, those battling cancer can get the majority of their treatments without leaving the comfort and support systems of their home town.

RRH CEO Jim Suver conducted a needs-assessment survey in our community in 2016. The results confirmed that the public wanted to bring treatment services closer to home. RRH established a partnership with the University of California Davis that allowed the local hospital to open the new service in November 2017.

“Having the Cancer Center here brings consultation and first steps much closer to home,” said Michelle Walley, clinic administrator at RRH.

“But partnering with a group as robust as UC Davis also gives our hospital access to tremendous medical expertise, top-notch research and clinical trials.”

According to the hospital’s 2018 annual report, the addition of oncology and hematology services led to more than 900 visits to the cancer center for treatment and services not previously available at RRH.

Dr. Everard Hughes, board certified in hematology and oncology, saw more than 260 new patients in 2018 — 130 of whom were new oncology consultations for RRH. That same year, five patients completed their cancer treatment and went into remission.

According to Shantell Utley, clinical manager of the Outpatient Pavilion and Cancer Center, new services include chemotherapy, biological infusion treatments and blood transfusions.

Although the center does not offer radiation treatment, it does offer financial assistance for people traveling out of town for radiation.

As of November, patients can also get PET (positron emission tomography) scans locally. “These are images a little more sophisticated than a CT scan that allow you to identify cancerous activity in the body,” said Utley. “We do these as screenings, but also as follow-ups to see how well a patient is progressing in treatment.”

Dr. Hughes also oversees a tumor board, which means he gathers all of a patient’s physicians and care teams together regularly to coordinate treatment for highly acute options.

The staff of the cancer center has earned glowing patient testimonials (some of which can be seen in this edition) for compassion and professionalism. (Read more at www.rrh.org/ treatment-care/oncology-hematology /our-team/.)

One member of that team is Stacie Fisher – a longtime nurse at the hospital, but also a breast cancer survivor.

“I would like to be remembered as someone who cared for others, who went the extra mile, made someone’s most difficult life experience a bit easier and enjoyed the little and big things in life!”

Pictured: The RRH Cancer Center, a partnership with UC Davis, opened in the Outpatient Pavilion building in November 2017 – bringing much-needed access to cancer treatments to the residents of the Indian Wells Valley and surrounding areas. — Photo courtesy of RRH

Story First Published: 2019-10-11