For patients at the Shawnee Mission Cancer Center, each visit begins with the same familiar face. The Center, which opened in January, offers a full range of medical and radiation oncology services. All physicians and services are housed in one building conveniently located on the Shawnee Mission Medical Center campus, and patients get to know the doctors and staff throughout their oncology journey.
Having a fully integrated cancer center is just one of the ways Shawnee Mission Health (SMH) lives out its commitment to whole-person care.
“This is the perfect place to have a cancer center,” said Becca Bell, executive director of Shawnee Mission Health Oncology Services. “Oncology in general treats the whole person because there are so many aspects to the patient’s care.”
The Cancer Center is led by medical oncologist Prasanth Reddy, MD, MPH, FACP, and radiation oncologist Michael A. Hughes, MD. In addition to medical treatments, the Center offers genetic counseling, dietary services, spiritual wellness programs and massage therapy. To provide patients with a continuum of cancer care services, the Center also hosts breast cancer and prostate cancer support groups.
“When the diagnosis of cancer is given, your world completely changes,” said Bell. “One’s perspective on everything changes. So the psychosocial part of it becomes very important and relevant early on.”
To ensure the Center was designed with patients in mind, SMH held focus groups to learn what patients value in a treatment center. For example, since an infusion therapy session can sometimes take hours, the staff wanted to design the Center’s infusion therapy suite according to their patients’ suggestions.
The focus groups revealed that patients wanted a convenient, comfortable space to receive their infusion therapy. To meet these requests, the infusion therapy suite has 14 cubicle-like bays, which each have outlets for patients’ electronics, a television, cubbies for belongings, a recliner chair for patients and extra seating for guests. The suite is lined with windows, and each bay is separated from the others by a partition. There are also two private rooms where patients can have more space for guests.
To help take patients’ minds off their treatment, nurses dispose of used chemotherapy equipment in “chemo garages,” trashcans tucked away in cabinets throughout the suite.
“Patients said they didn’t want to be reminded all day long of their chemo treatments, so after the nurse disposes of the waste the doors are closed so the patients don’t have to sit and look at everything,” said Bell.
Patients do not just come to the Cancer Center to receive medical treatments. Another component is feeling good and looking good. Just upstairs, the Santé Image Renewal Center offers wigs, wig styling, prosthetics, skin care products, scarves, head wraps and makeup. A simple shopping trip can make all the difference in a patient’s oncology experience, Bell said.
“We’re built on the Shawnee Mission Health foundation of providing much more than medicine,” said Bell. “It really is about the whole cancer journey, not just the treatment.”
Author Emily Becherer is a writer for Shawnee Mission Health. For more information about the Shawnee Mission Cancer Center, visit ShawneeMission.org.