Monday Medical: A home for cancer care | SteamboatToday.com

Monday Medical: A home for cancer care

Susan Cunningham/For Steamboat Today

— Chemotherapy takes a toll. When a patient is tired and run down from treatment, the last thing he or she wants to do is navigate another registration process or walk down long hallways to get from one appointment to another.

Soon, patients in Steamboat won't have to — Yampa Valley Medical Center's Jan Bishop Memorial Cancer Care Center will provide a warm, welcoming environment with convenient access to top quality care.

The cancer center will be on the second floor of a new, 14,000-square-foot building on the east side of the hospital. It will be a comfortable, private area with a separate entrance.

When cancer patients come for treatment, they will be interacting "with likeminded people that are focused on the same challenges that they are," said Karen McRight, senior director of marketing and business development at YVMC. "There's a lot of camaraderie that's generated from that."

Last year, more than 3,000 people received some form of cancer treatment, screening or diagnosis at Yampa Valley Medical Center. As the over-65 population grows, Northwest Colorado is expected to experience higher incidences of various cancers that can be treated locally.

"We want to make the necessary investments now to provide for the needs of the future," McRight said. "This personalized approach to cancer treatment, and being close to home — those are the driving needs of YVMC's design and building of the cancer center."

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The cancer center will include: a medical oncology clinic, where Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers Drs. Allen Cohn and Robert Rifkin will see patients; infusion chemotherapy, with bays that can provide privacy and have expansive views of the ski mountain; the oncology navigator, who assists patients through the treatment process; and a range of services for cancer patients that treat the whole body, including massage, counseling and acupuncture, along with a nutritionist and social worker.

In addition to the comfort and convenience of the cancer center, patients will receive top-notch care from some of the best providers around.

"You're talking about doctors who are extremely well trained and certified and board certified," McRight said. "Just like you would find in Houston and any other major city — we have them here. That's what makes us different."

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to cancer care. The new cancer center will also help people find and access the right care as early as possible, by following national best practices on community education and screening for cancer.

While YVMC continues to work to raise awareness for the importance of breast cancer screening, Routt County's prevalence rate for screening of adult women remains below that of the state of Colorado.

“We can help to improve that,” McRight said.

Screening for cervical cancer is also underutilized, with Routt and Moffat counties coming in around the 50th percentile compared to the national benchmark.

"We've got a lot of room to go," McRight said. "It comes down to access, screening and education."

Construction on the new cancer center is scheduled to begin this fall, finishing in 2016. YVMC has received generous donations from the community — $3.1 million has been donated for the $4.3 million project.

Most recently, Steamboat Springs resident Joe Bishop made a significant donation, and the new center will be named in honor of his sister, who died from cancer in her 20s.

"Two-thirds of the project has been funded by very generous donors," McRight said. "The community has truly supported the work that's being done here and has made so much of this feasible."

Susan Cunningham writes for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at cunninghamsbc@gmail.com.