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For cancer patients, medical staff members become family

The JRMC Cancer Center, which was fully funded by donors in the community, started seeing patients in June 2019.

Marie Olson and Laura Bond at Cancer Center
Dr. Laura Bond, second from left, an oncology nurse practitioner at Jamestown Regional Medical Center, said cancer has touched her life personally and that is why she is in a profession that gives back to the community. Also pictured is Marie Olson, center, the latest Jamestown Regional Medical Center Cancer Center graduate from Montpelier, North Dakota, and her husband, Don.
Contributed / Jamestown Regional Medical Center
We are part of The Trust Project.

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — The staff at Jamestown Regional Medical Center’s Cancer Center become a part of a family to patients who get treatment there, according to Marie Olson, the latest cancer center graduate from Montpelier, North Dakota.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Olson said. “They were all so kind.”

Dr. Laura Bond, an oncology nurse practitioner, said the Cancer Center staff sees patients so often and will build relationships with their family as well.

“I think that is huge in their treatment,” she said. “They come in and want to know about our life. They want to know what is going on with us too.”

Mike Delfs, Jamestown Regional Medical Center president and CEO, said the staff is one of the largest contributors to the success of the cancer center. He said the staff connect with the patients and families.

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“Then you build that level of trust especially in cancer diagnosis,” he said. “I would say a patients’ feeling of satisfaction and trust is really greatly enhanced by the fact that we have really well-trained staff and it’s the same staff. You see the same people. Whoever cared for you on Monday is the same person who is going to care for you on a Wednesday.”

Bond said cancer has touched her life personally and that is why she is in a profession that gives back to the community. Her husband had battled acute myeloid leukemia.

“During that time the community gave us so much when Josh was sick,” she said.

She said the people who come to the cancer center are true warriors who still come with a smile on their face even though they are dealing with some bad news.

“We are along to fight with them through their journey,” she said.

The Cancer Center, which was fully funded by donors in the community, started seeing patients in June 2019. It includes two exam rooms and six infusion rooms.

Since the cancer center opened, 18 people have rung the bell to mark the end of their treatments. The cancer center has served 56 communities and helped save patients and their families 500,000 miles of travel.

2019 JRMC Cancer Center Exterior.jpg
The JRMC Cancer Center started seeing patients in June 2019. It includes two exam rooms and six infusion rooms.
Contributed / Jamestown Regional Medical Center

Olson had her colon cancer diagnosis in October 2021, and had her last round of chemotherapy in June. She said 10 of her 12 chemotherapy treatments were done at Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

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“I felt good all the way through this and had energy,” she said.

Olson said her husband was allowed to be in the same room when she was getting her treatments. In Fargo, her husband was not allowed in the same room.

Kari Smith of Carrington, North Dakota, was the first graduate of the Cancer Center. She was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in April 2019. She had her previous six chemotherapy treatments in Fargo, and her final two in Jamestown.

She said she received great care even though it was a much smaller setting, which was relaxing compared to a larger facility with more people coming in and out.

“You are still getting great care there, and the nurses there are great,” she said. “Even when I go for checkups the nurses are all very friendly and accommodating.”

Saving miles

Jamestown Regional's Cancer Center has helped people from as far as Ellendale or Minnewauken among the 56 communities it has served.

“That’s over a half million miles saved for those patients,” Delfs said. “One of the things that means for those patients is that they have the ability to continue to have their regular life in addition to the cancer treatments.”

When Smith did her treatments in Fargo, she said her husband or friends rotated to take her. But going from Carrington to Fargo was a time commitment for her husband and friends.

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“Of course my friends were very gracious in helping,” she said. “It was still a full day.”

Kari Smith.jpg
Kari Smith of Carrington, North Dakota, was the first graduate of the JRMC cancer center. She was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in April 2019.
Contributed / Kari Smith

Smith said if the Cancer Center would have been available in Jamestown, she would have done all her treatments there.

“I probably could have went to Jamestown by myself and not needed anyone to go with me,” she said. “The travel to Fargo, you never know on the way back if you don’t feel good.”

Bond said gas cards, which are made possible by an endowment fund at the Jamestown Regional Medical Center, help new patients with travel costs.

Patients are also given a bag full of donated items that they can bring to their treatments, she said.

“Sometimes that’s the highlight of their day,” she said. “It’s a stressful day. The unknown, everybody gets here, and they are all anxious."

Related Topics: HEALTH NEWSHEALTH
Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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