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Janice Roohan's story

  • Cancer is a frightening diagnosis, and your first thought after the initial shock might be to travel any distance to get the best cancer care.

    After her ovarian cancer diagnosis, Janice Roohan of Faribault learned that the very best cancer experts would come to her in Faribault at the District One Cancer Center. "I was so grateful that I didn't have to travel for tests and chemo, and that I could see Dr. Schwartz, one of the best oncologists available, right in Faribault," she said.

    Great treatment without travel

    For Roohan, her cancer journey started when she began to feel bloated and her clothes weren't fitting well. Her doctor, Michael Hildebrandt, MD, a family medicine doctor at Allina Health Faribault Clinic, ran tests and determined that she had signs of ovarian cancer.

    He referred her to Burton Schwartz, MD, a medical oncologist who sees patients at Virginia Piper Cancer Institute and the District One Cancer Center. After more tests, she saw Cheryl Bailey, MD, a gynecological cancer specialist at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, part of Allina Health. "They worked out a plan and kept Dr. Hildebrant in the loop," said Roohan.

    Chemotherapy was the first step, and Roohan was one of the first patients to have chemo treatment in the District One Cancer Center after it opened in 2011. "Instead of a row of chairs with no privacy, the District One Chemotherapy department had individual rooms with comfortable heated chairs, TV, iPads, games, anything you could want. The nurses were kind and attentive," said Roohan.

    Surgery was the next step. Many cancer surgeries can be done at the District One Hospital with a pathologist on site. Roohan's more complicated surgery was done at Abbott Northwestern Hospital by Bailey, with follow-up and aftercare in Faribault. The Allina Health electronic health record helped all of her doctors and caregivers coordinate her care. Since then, more follow-up, testing and chemotherapy have been done - all at District One Cancer Center.

    Roohan has also found the cancer support group at District One to be helpful.

    District One Cancer Center: Major cancer center expertise with hometown caring

    The District One Cancer Center, a partnership between Allina Health and District One Hospital in Faribault, was completed in 2011. While excellent cancer care has been available at District One for 30 years, the collaboration brings the resources of the award-winning Virginia Piper Cancer Institute® to Faribault. "We use the expertise and experience of the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute and other Allina Health cancer specialists, but deliver as much of the care as possible in Faribault," said Tim Hogan, MD, Allina Health clinic regional medical director.

    Chemotherapy patient

    Chemotherapy patients at the District One Cancer Center receive treatment in comfortable private rooms that feature heated reclining chairs, television, music and games.

    District One Cancer Center cases are discussed at Virginia Piper Cancer Institute tumor conferences with a team of cancer experts, and the same evidence-based treatment "pathways" used by major cancer centers around the country are followed.

    The District One Cancer Center team includes two medical oncologists, a surgeon, a genetic counselor, a pathologist and specially trained staff. At the center, patients can have digital mammography, MRI, ultrasound, PET scans, bone marrow biopsies, CT scans - almost every diagnostic test cancer patients need. Many cancer surgeries are performed at District One, with more complicated cases treated at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Chemotherapy treatments are available at District One, and most radiation treatments can be coordinated with Northfield Hospital.

    Knowledge and 'TLC'

    When you're battling cancer, there are a lot of tests, appointments, fears, decisions and questions. At the District One Cancer Center, Amy Selly, RN, an oncology nurse practitioner, guides patients through the treatment process, making appointments, explaining options, coordinating the efforts of caregivers and making sure all of the patient's needs are met. She'll even go to appointments with a patient if desired. "Amy made sure everything got done," said Phyllis DeGrood, who was treated at the District One Cancer Center in 2012. "I was treated like family at the cancer center. It was an excellent combination of knowledge and TLC."

    Helping survivors advance

    A Survivorship Program helps patients cope with all aspects of cancer. "Cancer is complex," said Selly. "In addition to medical treatment, we try to make sure that quality of life is the best possible, and that social, financial and emotional needs are met." A survivorship meeting before treatment and at the conclusion of treatment assures that the patient has all of the resources they need to cope with the multiple effects of cancer on their life. A survivorship plan provides a road map for follow-up and self-care after treatment.

  • Source: Healthy Communities Magazine, Fall 2013
    Reviewed by: Tim Hogan, MD, Allina Health clinic regional medical director
    First published: 08/07/2013
    Last reviewed: 08/07/2013