ELMHURST – The new Center for Cancer Care opened Wednesday at Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare where patients can get lab work, see physicians and undergo therapy all in the same facility.
"We didn't wait for the cancer center to be built before we achieved multiple accreditations," said Don Dahlheimer, Elmhurst Memorial's manager of spiritual care services, before the ribbon cutting.
Dahlheimer also mentioned Elmhurst Memorial's recent announcement that it earned Planetree Distinction, an honor only five hospitals have achieved worldwide. An international organization, Planetree, Inc. works with health care professionals to create a culture of patient-centered care.
The Center for Cancer Care attempts to carry on that philosophy. Designed with family in mind, according to a hospital news release, the center's infusion area includes a social treatment area for patients who want a more interactive experience. Private treatment bays line the outer walls of the area for those patients who prefer them. Comfortable, heated recliners face individual television screens, and families are welcome in both the social and private treatment areas.
Mayor Steve Morley recounted a recent birthday celebration he attended for a 46-year-old cancer survivor with three children before thanking the hospital for bringing the cutting-edge facility to Elmhurst.
"Normally when you get around that age, your kids get a little older and you regret having birthdays," Morley said.
Such was not the case for the cancer survivor. Morley remembered how happy she was to be celebrating her birthday, and told the crowd gathered at the new cancer center the facility would contribute to more of those experiences.
"If you talk to any survivor, they embrace their birthdays, they don't regret them," Morley said.
The new center features a centralized model of care that facilitates communication and convenience. Nurse navigators, complementary therapies and support services and multidisciplinary clinics are all located within the 32,000-square-foot facility. Patients can also take advantage of an American Cancer Society wig boutique, resource center and breast health program.
Medical and radiation oncologists work closely with primary care physicians and surgeons to coordinate individualized treatment plans according to the release. Oncology certified nurses, radiation therapists, nurse navigators, social workers, dietitians, chaplains and other health care providers support physicians.
In addition to experts, patients will benefit from the new center's technology. The Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator delivers powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy and precision, the release stated. The center uses PET/CT imaging for the diagnosis, staging or re-staging of cancer.
Elmhurst Memorial's CyberKnife will not move to the new center until January, but patients will continue to receive treatment at other CyberKnife locations until then. The technology delivers precise beams of high-dose radiation to a wide range of locations including the brain, spine, lung, liver, pancreas and prostate, while protecting normal tissue.
Patients will begin receiving treatment at the new cancer center Nov. 18 when the Berteau campus will officially close.
While the center boasts numerous high-tech machines, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin talked about the people at Elmhurst Memorial where his sister works. He remembered following his father on rounds around the Berteau campus as a child.
"This center, this community and the work that you do here holds a very special place in my heart," said Cronin, a lifelong Elmhurst resident.