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Ephrata Cancer Center
Making The World A Better Place
By Michelle Brenner There is a place on the outskirts of town that cares for the body, mind and spirit of people battling disease. It’s a healing place; a place of hope and encouragement.
For the past 12 years, the Ephrata Cancer Center (ECC) has been helping a vast number of local people in their fight against cancer. In fact, since opening its doors, more than 90,000 people have received treatment there. It’s been the center’s purpose to deliver compassionate, excellent, clinical care for the whole patient and not simply treat disease.
Everything about the ECC fosters a feeling of well being. Upon entering the facility, patients immediately encounter an environment specifically designed to provide comfort. An abundance of natural light and lush tropical foliage create an uplifting atmosphere. There are practical amenities available such as: a flat screen television, comfortable seating and complimentary coffee and tea. Most importantly, the center’s staff members are compassionate and accommodating, which is especially comforting to patients coping with the stresses and rigors of cancer treatment.
It’s not surprising that the ECC strives to be "patient centered." The center’s primary goal is "to deliver comprehensive cancer services to patients and families in a timely, sensitive, coordinated, thorough and professional manner."
According to Joanne Martin, administrative director of the center, the fulfillment of this goal is primarily due to the center’s dedicated staff and volunteers.
"The staff caters to every patient need whether it is related to treatment or not," she stated.
Besides being catered to, patients receive specialized care from board certified oncologists as well as oncology certified therapists, nurses, social workers and dietitians. In addition, volunteers assist in meeting patient needs in various capacities and pastoral care is always available.
Since the ECC offers extensive wrap-around services, one of its key resources is the patient services coordinator. The coordinator’s purpose is to remove roadblocks to treatment. This means helping patients to keep their appointments, follow their treatment regime and receive support services. Patients can also be referred to ancillary support services like rehabilitation, home care, psychiatry and hospice.
Although the ECC is officially a department of the Ephrata Community Hospital, it has its own licensed laboratory and pharmacy. These features offer convenience to patients and facilitate their treatments. The center may function as an independent entity; however, it also utilizes the full service advantages of the community hospital. In fact, within the hospital there are 17 in-patient beds designated for the ECC’s use.
Outpatient services at the ECC are extensive and in keeping with current practices in cancer treatment programs.
"Cancer has become a chronic disease instead of a terminal illness because of the increased effectiveness of chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation therapy techniques," said Martin. " It is no longer the death sentence it once was."
The center’s treatment area reflects Martin’s sentiments. Chemotherapy is given in a cheerful outpatient ward where patients can rest in recliners and have access to television, music and snacks.
To further promote a positive setting, the ECC hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. During the fall and winter holidays, live music, snacks and desserts are available to patients. Fresh flowers and seasonal plants are occasionally distributed. The center also hosts an annual party for patients and their families who have received treatment within the past one-and-a-half years. This celebration includes a free meal, games, entertainment and crafts.
It would appear that the ECC is doing everything possible to meet the needs of people undergoing cancer treatment; however, the center has a long-range vision to develop even more services. Pilot programs are underway to offer patient enrichment services such as art therapy, music therapy and yoga. There is also a vision to expand complimentary medicine services such as massage therapy, acupuncture and herbal and vitamin therapy.
In keeping pace with the most current treatments available, the ECC collaborates with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital of Philadelphia to offer patients a local opportunity to participate in clinical trials. From its state of the art treatment machines to the complimentary provision of patient hats and shawls, the ECC is endeavoring to give patients the highest quality of compassionate care. The center’s participation in professional organizations that review quality insures a continuous refinement and growth of patient services.
As to the value of outside quality assessments… "They keep our ship steering in the right direction," said Martin. The ECC is definitely a "rescue ship" that is steering its way to making the world of cancer patients and their families a far better place. More CANCER, page A15