With limited space at St. Anthony Hospital, patients that needed infusions were traveling to Lakewood and Tacoma for care.
“Nobody wants to travel when they’re ill,” said Kurt Schley, president of St. Anthony.
This week, the hospital opened a 6,000-square-foot addition to the cancer center on site. The new expanded infusion center at St. Anthony now features 10 chairs, as opposed to four, and also has two beds to better accommodate some patients.
“It’s not normal now for them to have to travel,” Schley said. “It means we can take care of sicker patients.”
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Infusion therapy administers medications through a needle or catheter. It is often prescribed when an illness is too severe for oral medication treatment.
With the increase in infusion stations, the hospital can now see between 20 and 25 patients a day. Before the expansion, the number was about 10 to 15.
The center is part of the growing St. Anthony Hospital, part of CHI Franciscan Health, based in Tacoma. The hospital was built through a Certificate of Need and a Hospital Benefit Zone to service residents on the western side of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. At the time, it was the first hospital built in the state for 28 years.
The success of the hospital, which opened in 2009, is partially due to the community support on the peninsula. It is clear, Schley said, that the community wants the hospital on the peninsula, and so it supports its work.
While part of the cancer care center, the infusion center is about more than cancer. The hospital is also able help patients who need blood and need care for chronic conditions and autoimmune diseases. The two private rooms allow the hospital to now care for “higher-level patients,” said Joy Martin, associate vice president for oncology.
Many patients have to come in for infusions on a daily basis, so a hospital close to home is a big help in recovery.
“The (Tacoma Narrows) Bridge can be very wearing,” Martin said.
The infusion center officially opened on Monday, but staff had a preview and blessing the week before. Walking into the new center was special for the staff.
“Everybody was in awe,” said Deberie Conner, infusion manager for Franciscan Health.
Everything has been put together by design, Conner said. The nurses station has a full view of all the rooms and a consult room is available on site.
Patients were already scheduled — and excited — for the opening day, she said.
The center has been highly anticipated at the hospital. Even better, it opened ahead of time and under budget, Schley said.
The infusion center is located in the Milgard Medical Pavilion at St. Anthony Hospital, 11567 Canterwood Blvd NW, Gig Harbor.