Cancer patients no longer have to go to one place in Pinehurst to see their oncology physician and another place to get their chemotherapy treatment. Since February, they have been able to do both at the same place.
The outpatient chemotherapy services of FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital and the offices and clinics of the cancer physicians of Pinehurst Medical Clinic are now just down the hall from each other in the new FirstHealth Outpatient Cancer Center. The outpatient center is in the building on Page Road that previously housed the hospital’s Ambulatory Surgery Center.
“This ushers in a new era of cancer care in our community,” says Bill Edwards, CEO of Pinehurst Medical Clinic. “It allows care to be delivered in a highly integrated fashion and a highly personal fashion.”
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Kerry Husted, administrative director of Moore Regional’s Oncology Services and Pharmacy, says the new facility brings physician and hospital services together for more streamlined and coordinated care.
“With physicians’ offices now in the same building where patients are receiving therapy, physicians and nurses can work together more closely and more efficiently to provide the best treatment for each patient,” Husted says.
Depending on the type of cancer that patients have and the type of treatment they need, they may come for chemotherapy several times a week, once a week or once every few weeks. Most patients don’t need to see the doctor every time they come for treatment.
“But now the doctors are right here with us in case we need them,”says Peggy Scott. “That’s a big change that’s really nice.”
A resident of Hamlet in Richmond County, Scott has chemotherapy for lung cancer at the Outpatient Cancer Center.
According to Ellen Willard, M.D., an oncologist with Pinehurst Medical Clinic and medical director of the Outpatient Cancer Center, having physicians nearby doesn’t just give patients reassurance, it also makes for better patient care.
“It is much easier for us to evaluate patients who have problems while they are getting their chemotherapy, because the physician or nurse practitioner can just walk over and see them,” she says.
More room, more privacy The new operation also allows more patients to receive treatment at the same time. The outpatient chemotherapy service had outgrown its space in the hospital due to the increasing number of patients needing therapy and to advances in therapy.
“In the past, you might get one or two treatments, and many of the treatments didn’t take long,” Dr. Willard says. “Now, there are more options. You can get second- line therapy and third-line therapy in some cases. And many of the newer treatments are much more complicated and take much longer to give. All of that means that we have a lot more people coming back a lot more often.”
The old outpatient chemotherapy facility in the hospital could accommodate 16 patients at a time. The new center has a capacity of 28.
“It’s much more comfortable here because there’s so much more room,” says Scott. “You can get up and walk around if you want to. You’re not confined.”
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Cancer patients receive chemotherapy in the form of an IV (intravenous) infusion. Infusion also is used to deliver other types of drugs and blood products to patients with various types of cancers and blood disorders.
Roscoe Eayres of Aberdeen comes to the Outpatient Cancer Center every week to have his blood checked and usually to get an infusion. He has been getting blood for nearly 10 years, because his bone marrow doesn’t make enough red blood cells.
“When I first started coming, it was in a little room down in the basement of the hospital,” he says. “They moved into the bigger place a few years ago, but it had gotten pretty crowded. There just wasn’t enough room to treat people. This place is a lot nicer; it’s very modern. They’ve also expanded the staff considerably.”
Mark Beaty of Seven Lakes has been undergoing cancer treatment off and on for more than 20 years for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In January, he began coming to Moore Regional once a week for chemotherapy.
“I have been followed in the past by an oncologist at Duke, and up until this latest round of chemo, my wife and I were commuting back and forth to Duke,” he says. “Considering that the treatment takes eight hours, going to Duke turned it into a 12- hour day.”
Beaty says coming to the Outpatient Cancer Center in Pinehurst is much more convenient and the new facility is more pleasant than the one in the hospital that it replaced.
“There’s privacy if you need it, and the nurses have plenty of room to move around,” he says. “The facilities here are great, and the staff—the nurses and physicians—and the volunteers are awesome.”
As both a career physician assistant and a long-time patient, Beaty has had a lot of experience with both sides of patient care.
“They take care of their side very well here,” he says. “There is support whether you ask for it or not, but it isn’t intrusive. Everything is very laid back.”
The Outpatient Cancer Center has enough space to allow the chemotherapy service to expand over the next few years to keep up with patient needs. It also has office and clinic space for additional cancer physicians who will be joining Pinehurst Medical Clinic in the future.
“This facility will help us attract and retain the very best oncologists who are in demand on the national level,” says Edwards. “Working together, Pinehurst Medical Clinic and Moore Regional Hospital provide the latest and most advanced oncology and hematology treatment services in the region. Our cancer patients have the twin advantages of world-class cancer care provided by a fully integrated team of caregivers and their own personal oncologist who knows them and makes sure they have access to whatever services they need.”