Saint Luke’s East offers cancer patients expanded services

rpulley@lsjournal.comNovember 8, 2013 

This linear accelerator is part of new equipment for cancer treatment at Saint Luke’s East Hospital

COURTESY PHOTO

Saint Luke’s East Hospital this month opens expanded facilities for cancer treatment.

The new capabilities at the Lee’s Summit hospital are designed to make patients more comfortable and give them convenient access to the most advanced care.

Saint Luke’s held ribbon-cutting services this week and, on Nov. 11, starts treating patients with new equipment for medical oncology and infusion therapy.

“We’re excited to offer comprehensive cancer services in Lee’s Summit,” said Ron Baker CEO. He said there is a real need for eastern Jackson County and region to have facilities located nearer to them.

Previously for some services patients had to go to Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute in Kansas City.

The expansion includes state-of-the art machinery for radiation therapy and an Image Renewal Center – where cancer patients can get wigs, compression garments, makeup and creams or other items designed specifically for their needs. It is located near the infusion center and the only shop of its kind in Jackson County, Baker said.

On the fifth floor, it overlooks a vista toward Kansas City with lots of natural light from windows.

“We wanted to make it as patient friendly and comfortable as possible,” Baker said.

The Boo Ball fundraiser recently netted more than $200,000 to help with a fund for patients who need financial assistance to buy items at the appearance center and for furnishing the infusion center, Baker said.

The additions are in the hospital’s North Medical Pavilion. Cancer patients will have direct access from their own entrance with valet parking.

Timothy Pluard, a doctor and medical director for Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute, said a patient getting chemotherapy could spend an hour to eight hours in the infusion center while they’re given drugs intravenously, so it’s important to make it comfy.

Pluard said there are about 5,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Jackson County every year.

“We feel there’s a significant need in eastern Jackson County and this center is fully integrated with what’s going on at the Plaza (Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute),” Pluard said.

Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute is participating in 60 patient trials through the National Cancer Institute. Cancer patients are evaluated to determine if they could benefit from participating in one of those trials.

A full-time research nurse will be on staff at Lee’s Summit reviewing and managing cases. The nurse will advise doctors when a patient seems to fit a trial and the doctor will discuss the options with their patients.

Pluard said about 100 patients at St. Luke’s participate in the trials testing a new drug or medical device every year.

Preparing the first floor suite for radiation therapy required building an unusual bunker, like a bomb shelter, to protect patients and staff from exposure. Building the three-foot-thick walls took 60 truckloads of concrete, Baker said.

One vault is vacant, for expansion. The other contains a linear accelerator.

Pluard said it is linked to advanced imaging equipment that allows delivering a more precise blast of higher-dose radiation to destroy tumors.

The equipment can adjust the beam to compensate for patient’s movement, even breathing, he said.

Construction of the North Medical Pavilion began in February 2010, adding 91,000 square feet to the campus. In December 2011 the hospital opened a 12-bed neonatal intensive care unit there in December 2011 and a 16-bed intensive care unit in March.

The hospital is on track to complete its fifth floor addition adding another 30 beds next June or July and later another 30 beds. That will bring the hospitals bed capacity to more than 200, Baker said.

The hospital could add a sixth floor and the campus has room for additional buildings, if needed for future expansion, Baker said.

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