Six registered nurses are now certified in chemotherapy administration at Brodstone Memorial Hospital. These six nurses include Valerie Woerner, Becky Scott, Whitni Rust, Lana Thayer, Kori Field and Kendra Lipker. “The first thought, whenever there is a discussion about a new service is, do we have the staffing.” began Kori Field, Chief Nursing Officer. “When I asked, it didn’t take long for volunteers to step forward.” Before chemotherapy is administered, two certified nurses need to be present, as each treatment is double verified before it is given.
What training is needed to be able to administer chemo? Field described the program as a “quite detailed, involved self-study course and passing a certification test.” The nurses attended a class at Ft. Hays State University in Hays KS that demonstrated a variety of treatments. Nursing candidates went to either Hastings or Grand Island for several shadowing experiences as well. There were also policies and procedures that had to be written and approved before the start of the chemotherapy treatments.
One member of the ’chemo team’, Lana Thayer, lost her first husband to cancer several years ago. “When he went through chemo, I was a working nights as a nurse. The procedure was interesting to watch and I told my employer at the time that I would like to work with the chemo infusions if they ever had that service. Now that I work at Brodstone, I have the opportunity,” related Thayer.
Whitni Rust was excited when she heard Brodstone was considering bringing chemotherapy services in-house. “When I finished nursing school, I did my preceptorship at the CHI cancer center in Grand Island and I loved it. After graduation, it was my goal to eventually end up working as a chemo nurse.” Rust commented, “I don’t know a single person, myself included, who has not been affected by cancer in one way or another. Having the opportunity to help those that are fighting the disease is something that I am honored to be a part of.”
Another volunteer, Becky Scott, has had prior experience giving chemo infusions. She was a chemo nurse in Smith Center for two years. “I was inspired by the caring nurses that gave my grandmother chemotherapy years ago. I wanted to be like them”, recounted Scott.
When Valerie Woerner agreed to be a certified chemo nurse, she was interested in helping patients through their cancer journey. “My grandpa had cancer and I just like helping people,” said Woerner.
In addition to having certified and experienced nurses to administer the chemotherapy at Brodstone, a major advantage for a service like chemotherapy being added to the facility is the established working relationships between providers, oncologists and the chemo nursing team. These partnerships of very experienced professionals, working together helps to establish the great quality service Brodstone always aims to provide and encourages a comfortable experience for the patient as they receive their chemotherapy close to home.
“Most importantly, having the opportunity to receive chemo infusions closer to home is a huge plus for our patients”, stressed Treg Vyzourek, hospital CEO. “Patients are able to have their blood draws done at Brodstone and speak with their healthcare provider via telehealth privately in their room.”
Brodstone has rooms designated for chemotherapy patients now, however, the recently announced construction project plans show five new private rooms for chemo patients that will also be used for other therapeutic infusions, conveniently located adjacent to the new emergency area. The rooms will have windows looking into the planned healing garden.
Any patient that would like to have their chemotherapy administered at Brodstone Memorial Hospital must start this conversation with the healthcare provider that prescribes the therapy. Once the order is received by the staff at Brodstone, the treatment can then be scheduled.