Hospital to offer chemo program

Posted on February 3rd in News

CHIP study/proposal leads the way for board’s OK

By Lauren Brown
Burns Times-Herald

Harney District Hospital will move forward with starting a chemotherapy program for patients thanks to approval from the board of directors at the Jan. 27 meeting.

Community Health Information Partnership Coordinator Cody Hodges provided the board with an in-depth analysis and an enthusiastic recommendation to proceed with the chemotherapy program.

In the report he noted that each year, there are 150 to 250 individuals from Harney County receiving cancer treatments. Patients currently have to drive to Bend or Boise for care. If Harney District Hospital (HDH) were to administer some of those treatments, it could drastically cut down the number of trips patients would have to make out of town.

Through Hodges’ research he discovered that the greatest number of Harney County patients (111) receive treatment at Cancer Care of the Cascades (CCC) so he approached them regarding a partnership with HDH. Hodges wrote that staff from “CCC toured our facility and engaged staff and physicians in productive discussions culminating in a general agreement to provide training, clinical and logistical support, patient advocacy and oncology services.”

Hodges told the board that over the years many chemotherapy drugs have become less toxic for patients and could be easily administered at HDH.

He noted that the hospital would not need much equipment to implement a chemotherapy program, just training, compassion and support. Financial costs to  start the program would be relatively low, he said.

His report outlines a program in which HDH would start out small, offering a list of 16 drugs for chemotherapy treatment.
The process would begin with Harney County patients who would initially be referred to CCC, where the cancer diagnosis is made or confirmed.

A treatment plan would be developed by the oncologist at CCC and communicated to the HDH Chemotherapy Unit and the designated family physician in Burns, John Day or Lakeview.

Physicians may receive extra training through CCC and may be involved in on-going cancer care education.

The first cycle of chemotherapy would be administered at CCC with subsequent cycles often being administered at HDH, with communication by fax, e-mail, phone or video-conference before and after each cycle.

Hodges’ report also included an appendix charting the projected costs and income of the proposed chemotherapy program.
Hodges estimated that HDH could see as many as 50 patients within the first year of offering the program.

Harney District Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jim Bishop was excited about the proposal. “It looks like we can provide a really successful program for the community,” Bishop said.

The board agreed and voted unanimously (with the exception of board member Shana Withee, who was absent from the meeting) to proceed with the chemotherapy program.

In other business:

• Gretchen Bates from the hospital’s foundation presented the board with some donations. The Harney Hospital Foundation donated $1,200 to the hospital’s swing bed program, $500 to the Better Bones step sets and $25 to the first responders.

The foundation will have its annual meeting at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 16. Bates said that many of the members have been involved with the foundation for a number of years and it may be time for some other people to step in. She also encouraged people to become members of the foundation. It costs $10 for an individual and $50 for a family. People who donate more than $500 will have their named engraved on a plaque;

• CEO Bishop praised RN Julie Burri for her involvement with the trauma hospital site survey conducted on Aug. 17. The hospital received a three-year full status Level IV trauma hospital categorization. “They were very impressed,” Bishop said. They also praised Dr. Holland Haynie for his involvement with the trauma system;

• the board approved a letter written to the community regarding the hospital’s recent arbitration with Skanska. The letter was submitted to the newspaper for publication;

• Chief Clinical Officer Ron Wulff stated that the hospital is interviewing for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) manager position and that after some discussion, it was decided that the EMS manager job description would include having a paramedic license. The hospital has received 19 applications for the position.

• Denise Rose from the hospital’s development and recruiting department stated that Sonni Svejcar’s breast cancer outreach program was selected as the No. 1 outreach program in Oregon and southwest Washington. Svejcar was honored at a dinner in Portland.

She also noted that the hospital will host a Monte Carlo Night on Feb. 20 at the Burns Elks Lodge. All funds raised will go toward a mammography machine;

• Chief of Medical Staff Dr. Haynie stated that Nurse Practitioner Toni Feist has begun work at the High Desert Medical Clinic and this has helped consolidate medical records;

• Board member Ann Vloedman reported on the board’s recent retreat in which the board discussed self-assessment, CEO succession planning, board involvement in personnel decisions and updating the strategic plan.

The next Harney District Hospital board meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Feb. 24.

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