April 25, 1997

Cancer Center debuts new ‘patient friendly’ chemoinfusion center

Cancer Center debuts new 'patient friendly' chemoinfusion center

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The Vanderbilt Cancer Center's new chemotherapy infusion center provides sorely needed additional space for increased patient volume

The Vanderbilt Cancer Center has opened a new, more "patient-friendly" chemotherapy infusion center to accommodate the growing number of patients served by the VCC.

The new, 13-chair center is adjacent to the Henry-Joyce Cancer Clinic in The Vanderbilt Clinic (TVC), but it has its own entrance off Pierce Avenue near the main entrance to Medical Research Building II.

Renovation of the existing chemoinfusion area is under way, which will bring the total number of chemoinfusion chairs to 22.

"We feel very fortunate to have this new space," said Carol Eck, administrative director for the cancer patient care center, which includes outpatient and inpatient services.

"The separate entrance is a nice feature. We are really excited about that because patients can literally be dropped off at the door. A lot of these patients are very weak, so this will be much more convenient for them."

The interior design includes a centrally located nurses station, which will be a benefit to both patients and staff, Eck said.

"We believe the arrangement will promote more efficient patient care," she said. "It will make patient flow easier and make the job of the nurses and physicians easier. The patients will like it, too, because they will be able to see the staff."

The new chemotherapy infusion center, which began serving patients earlier this month, was formally dedicated Thursday, April 24, in a ceremony attended by Dr. Richard Klausner, director of the National Cancer Institute.

In addition to chemotherapy, a variety of intravenous administrations are done in the infusion center, Eck said. These include blood transfusions, intravenous antibiotics and hydration therapy and anti-nausea medication.

The need for additional space is clear – 11 years ago, when Eck first joined the Vanderbilt cancer clinic staff as nurse coordinator, the chemotherapy infusion area was one room with five chairs in Medical Center North. At that time, patient volume in the cancer clinic was 6,000-6,500 per year.

In 1988, when TVC opened, a new chemotherapy infusion area was built to include 10 infusion chairs in private rooms.

But even after expanding its hours of operation to 8 a.m.-7 p.m., the center was still not large enough to accommodate the steady increase in patients, Eck said.

"Last year, we saw 22,000 patients in the clinic, and this year, we expect see 25,000," Eck said. Volume in the chemotherapy infusion center has grown proportionately, she said.

"We've also seen a trend toward more outpatient procedures as we've refined techniques so the infusions can be given over a shorter period of time and better anti-emetics have been developed so that patients don't often have the severe nausea that was once more typical," she said.

"If we were to continue to grow, we needed more space."

The new center offers five private rooms, while the other eight infusion chairs are arranged in two groups of four.

"We talked to some of our patients, and a number of them said they would like to have an area where they could sit and talk with other patients while getting their infusions," Eck said.

Renovation of the old chemoinfusion area is expected to be completed by June and will provide nine additional private infusion rooms.