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Jamestown Regional Medical Center to house oncology center in near future

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- After Jamestown resident Harold Rene was diagnosed with preleukemia in January, he and his wife, Karen, found themselves traveling to Fargo often for chemotherapy treatments, sometimes in treacherous weather conditions.

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- After Jamestown resident Harold Rene was diagnosed with preleukemia in January, he and his wife, Karen, found themselves traveling to Fargo often for chemotherapy treatments, sometimes in treacherous weather conditions.

“I think that 100 miles doesn’t seem far unless you don’t feel good,” Harold said.

For Harold -- a father, husband and grandfather -- a local oncology center would mean staying closer to home and family while providing a better sense of comfortability when undergoing critical treatments for preleukemia, which is medically known as myelodysplastic syndrome.

Next year,the Jamestown Regional Medical Center will open an oncology department, which will provide those in Stutsman County and the surrounding area with oncology services closer to home than before.

“(It’ll be) just much more convenient not having to worry about traveling, makes us feel a lot more confident about being able to get treatment when we need it,” Karen said.

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An oncology department is centered around the study and treatment of tumors, usually has a specialist team with expertise in cancer care and provides education to patients and the community about cancer research.

The JRMC currently offers some chemotherapy treatments to patients, but once the center opens treatments will expand and an oncologist will be available on site.

“We’ll treat all kinds of cancer that the medical oncologist and the nurse practitioner are comfortable having seen here,” said K.C. DeBoer, CEO and president of the JRMC.

DeBoer said cancer treatments are likely the No. 1 reason patients travel outside of the community for medical care.

“We’ve got a lot of people on the road, some multiple times a week, some monthly, who that’s really an inconvenience for, it disrupts life,” he said. “... We firmly believe that if a service can be provided here, cost effectively and safely, then it should be provided.”

The opening date for the new department is pending the hiring of a primary physician, DeBoer said.

“We originally hoped that we’d be operating sometime this winter, but we’re behind on that,” he said. “Recruitment is not there.”

Along with the oncologist, DeBoer said three registered nurses will be hired for this specialty department.

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The facility has raised $295,700 to fund the incoming department. Lisa Jackson, foundation director for the JRMC said $54,300 still needs to be raised to complete phase one of a two-part project.

The $350,000 cost of phase one comprises construction for the new department, clinical equipment, such as IV pumps, tables and chairs, infusion and other supplies, monitors for telemedicine and funding for recruitment.

Phase two doesn’t have an estimated cost set yet, but is speculated to be goaled at about $500,000, according to DeBoer. Phase two will consist of service expansion, which will be based on the number of patients enrolled in the program and the financial support from the community.

The JRMC oncology board, specific to this department, hopes to serve at least 100 patients at a time.

DeBoer also said the JRMC has received a named endowment that will continue to support the program well into the future. The endowment will be announced on Dec. 21 at the JRMC.

The JRMC oncology board has met with representatives from Sanford Health Roger Maris Cancer Center on a regular basis to make sure the JRMC is on track to have a successful center, DeBoer said.

“That physician or that advanced practice provider will be from Roger Maris Cancer Center, so it’ll be our staff in our facility with an expert from their center to oversee the care that’s given,” DeBoer said.

Harold and Karen speak highly of the care they have received at Roger Maris and at the JRMC.

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“The nurses here have been excellent for helping with questions, everything is new, like why do I feel this way, certain infections and things that you don’t know of, and the nurses have been like our family,” Karen said.

The oncology department will be located in the JRMC clinic near other specialty departments and will include four infusion rooms and two exam rooms.

“We’ve set aside a portion of the clinic for this service and knowing that it’ll be a good place for it to start but as we grow, we hope to outgrow it and move into another part of the building in the future,” DeBoer said.

Related Topics: HEALTHJAMESTOWN
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