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HSHS St. Francis Hospital Cancer Care Center Now Open

On March 3, 2017, HSHS St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield started offering chemotherapy treatments to patients in its new Cancer Care Center. “The construction and opening of the new service at the hospital was right on schedule,” said Aaron Puchbauer, interim president and CEO at St. Francis. “Following state approval in January, oncology patients started utilizing the center for outpatient visits. Chemotherapy treatments for patients began in March.”

Betty Smalley of Nokomis was the first patient to receive chemotherapy treatment. Smalley said, “I was diagnosed in July of 2016 with bone marrow cancer. Until now, I had to travel to Springfield for treatment every week.I had great doctors there, but I love seeing Dr. Zhang every time I come to St. Francis.” She explained that she is cancer free now. Smalley is on a two-year maintenance program which includes outpatient chemotherapy treatments every two weeks at Litchfield. Smalley remarked on the convenience of having treatments closer to home. She stated, “I live just 25 miles away from St. Francis. The new Cancer Care Center is very nice, so close and so handy! I just love all the people at the hospital and now I get to see doctor Zhang at every visit I make!”

Hui Zhang, MD, is an oncologist with the HSHS Medical Group. He stated. “If a patient needs chemotherapy, a common side effect is fatigue. It is recommended that patients have someone drive them to and from their treatment visits.” Finding someone available to travel long distances, with wait times being three-to-four hours at a time, is not easy. Zhang said, “Having the Cancer Care Center at St. Francis will be a great convenience to patients who live in Litchfield and its surrounding communities.”

Cancer affects more than one thousand people in Montgomery County and many more in the surrounding communities who must travel to receive the care they need—often being away from their home for eight hours or more. The hospital’s most recent community health needs assessment noted that cancer is a community concern, and identified the need for local infusion services to reduce costs and stress for survivors and their families.

Located on the fourth floor of the hospital, the Cancer Care Center offers chemotherapy treatment, blood transfusion and injections in a space that provides patient privacy and comfort. The new center can provide treatment for up to 16 patients daily.

Pictured in the new HSHS St. Francis Hospital Cancer Care Center with Betty Smalley are Tina Guinn, RN/Cancer Care Center supervisor, and Hui Zhang, MD. Zhang is an oncologist with the HSHS Medical Group and sees outpatients weekly in Litchfield.

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