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February 14, 2012 > Infusion Center Delivers Compassionate Care in a Peaceful Setting

Infusion Center Delivers Compassionate Care in a Peaceful Setting

Trained Nursing Staff Offers Expert Care and Guidance Through Treatment Process

For patients undergoing lengthy infusion treatments, like chemotherapy, a comfortable and relaxing setting is more than important - it's a necessity. Knowing this, the staff at the new Sandy Amos Outpatient Infusion Center at Washington Hospital works to ensure that patients receive the highest level of care in a peaceful environment designed with their comfort in mind.

Peaceful environment, expert staff

"Infusion treatments like chemotherapy can be lengthy, and they take their toll on both patients and their caregivers,"according to Medical Director Vandana B. Sharma, M.D., Ph.D. "For this reason, it is vital to make sure that each patient is as comfortable as possible. The new outpatient infusion center is a state-of-the-art facility with staff focused on providing patients with the best possible experience."

The center's Coordinator Shari Kellen, R.N., points out that all aspects of the center have been designed to support a pleasant treatment experience.

"The center is equipped with specially designed chairs that overlook an atrium filled with natural light, and we provide infusion treatments in a very comfortable, open and relaxing environment," says Kellen, who is one of the center's three registered nurses specializing in oncology care. "Our nursing staff members, including myself, Tammy Ballantyne, R.N., and Monica Stanculeanu, R.N., are very experienced oncology nurses certified by the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). In addition to infusion treatments, we also help patients navigate their cancer continuum from the time of diagnosis."

Kellen notes that she and her fellow nursing staff members also are available to assist patients with paperwork, appointments, and education, as well as scheduling different diagnostic and surgical procedures, including chemotherapy.

Privacy and top-notch amenities

Details of the Sandy Amos Outpatient Infusion Center - from the center's reclining chairs to snacks - were selected, tested and approved by a patient focus group prior to the center's opening. As a result, the center's amenities were designed with patients' needs in mind, according to Kellen.

"The center can accommodate several patients privately throughout the day," she explains. "We have eight individual 'bays' and a gurney room for individuals who wish to lie down. However, most people like to be in the atrium where they have access to their own TVs and storage for their personal belongings. There's WiFi, too, and they can listen to music, meditate or continue working if they wish.

"Spiritual care staff members are available if they need someone to pray with or talk to. The private rooms have dividers, which can be opened if they wish to make friends. Patients also may be accompanied by a family member during treatment if they wish."

In addition to infusion treatments for cancer, other types of infusion treatments available at the center include: blood transfusions, intravenous (IV) hydration, peripherally inserted catheter (PIC) insertions, and treatments to manage conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.

Infusion treatments, which at their longest can last for up to eight hours, can be exhausting and stressful for patients, according to Kellen. The center's goal is to make the experience as relaxing and comfortable as possible.

"The center's atmosphere allows for decreased anxiety and better outcomes, because if patients are less anxious, worried, and stressed, then the treatments go more smoothly," she says.

Navigating cancer care

The center's other goal, Kellen notes, is to help patients navigate the care process. While infusion treatment itself requires a physician referral, Kellen and the center's other nurse navigators can help patients with their treatment questions, education and referrals to other appropriate services.

"Our services as nurse navigators are open to people through self-referral using the nurse navigator line," she explains. "For instance, if patients have more questions about their diagnosis or treatment after their doctor's visit, or they need help accessing care, they can call for navigation services.

"We can also help connect patients with social services and other support services and referrals. If they don't have insurance, we can help facilitate their care through a social services worker."

Care close to home

The Sandy Amos Outpatient Infusion Center is located on the Washington Hospital campus in Fremont at 2500 Mowry Avenue. Free valet services are available. To speak with a nurse navigator or to learn more about services, call (510) 818-5060.

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