How do you create a place where people can go for treatment of a life-threatening illness that lifts their spirits and provides a sense of control at a time when everything appears uncertain? A thoughtful answer to that question was revealed last week at an open house for the new Irene Marie Infusion and Cancer Treatment Center at Sutter Amador Hospital in Jackson.
When the center opens for patients in April, it will be able to serve as many as 220 patients a month, with a mix of 10 special infusion chairs in open bays and two private rooms. Comfortable seating is provided for family and friends who can remain with the patient throughout their treatment. The bays can be isolated by curtains or left open to the entire room. The exterior wall is a bank of large windows with a view to green hills and trees. Other walls are decorated with murals of bright flowers painted by a local artist. Equipment used in treatment is all on wheels so that the configuration of the room and bays can be adjusted quickly as needed.
Each of these design elements was carefully planned based upon input collected from a wide range of “consultants” that included former patients and their families, medical staff and professional architects and designers. The focus was on creating a space that would make patients as comfortable as possible, and raise their spirits to harness the self-healing powers modern medicine has learned to respect.
A description of the center in the brochure provided to attendees at the open house states that “Patients will heal in our new treatment space with sunlight, beauty and nature among family and friends in their community.”
The nearly $2 million required to construct the new facility was raised from more than 90 different Amador County donors. The center was named for one of the largest donors.
Only five years ago, cancer patients in the Mother Lode had to travel long distances to the valley or even the Bay Area for periodic treatments. Mark Twain Medical Center in San Andreas was the first area hospital to offer the service in early 2013. By the end of this year, all three Mother Lode hospitals will have dedicated cancer treatment centers.
A new health pavilion at Adventist Health Sonora is in the final stages of construction and is expected to open within the next year. The state-of-the-art facility will house an array of outpatient services and the Diane J. White Cancer Institute, which includes its own infusion center designed with patients in mind and a view of the mountains.