Health & Fitness

Inside Beloit Health System’s New Cancer Center

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Combining resources under one roof, this new complex features state-of-the-art technology and amenities to ease the pain and discomfort that come along with cancer treatment. Discover how this unique place is answering the call.

The new Beloit Cancer Center team includes, from left: Dr. Peter Mahler, radiation oncologist; Dr. Neel Karne, surgeon; Dr. Shelly Johnsen, palliative care specialist; Dr. Walter Vogel, medical oncologist; Sharon Cox, RN, director of oncology.

Facing cancer is tough enough. Add the need to travel for treatment, the unfamiliar and often frightening atmosphere of clinical settings and the stress of the treatment itself, and it’s easy to understand why patients have been clamoring for improvements to care delivery.

Beloit Health System’s new Cancer Center, in collaboration with UW Carbone Cancer Center, answers the call for more convenient and comprehensive services. The new center brings all Beloit Health System (BHS) cancer services together under one roof.

The Cancer Center will offer complete cancer services at one location, rather than the current division of radiation at the hospital and chemotherapy at Beloit Clinic. Treatment services will include medical oncology, chemotherapy and infusion, and advanced radiation therapy, says Sharon Cox, BHS director of oncology.

The $11.6 million center opened its doors to patients in December and hosted a community open house on Jan. 25. It was constructed on a five-acre parcel of land at 1670 Lee Lane at Milwaukee Road, just off I-43, and less than a mile from I-90; the center is on the municipal bus route.

Beloit Health System affiliated with what is now UW Health almost 30 years ago. “In fact, we were one of their first affiliates,” says BHS President Tim McKevett. “With our new free-standing Cancer Center, we’re building on this relationship.”

McKevett adds that, with its new cancer-fighting technology and image-guided radiation, Beloit will be a better choice for cancer treatment now than ever before. “The new center will focus on patient care and comfort, with access to the latest treatment protocols, education, clinical trials, tertiary care, patient support benefits and beautiful, serene indoor and outdoor surroundings,” he says.

“We’re very pleased to add a new linear accelerator that offers the best available cancer treatment, replacing the existing one we’ve used for 18 years,” says Cox. “And we expect to see even more significant changes in radiation treatment in the future.”

The health system expects to see an increase in the number of patients it serves. “Right now, we see an average of about 20 patients daily, for both medical and radiation treatments,” says Cox.

To meet the anticipated need, BHS has bumped up its level of on-call personnel. Patients find convenient treatment under one roof, and oncology specialists at UW will be available via video conferencing, says Cox. UW doctors sometimes travel to the new center to see patients.

The Cancer Center is designed to serve cancer patients in Rock and Walworth counties in Wisconsin, as well as those in northern Illinois counties.

“We can’t foresee everything, of course, but with continued growth, we’ll be looking at hiring more full-time medical staff as needed,” Cox says. “In the chemotherapy department, we have one group infusion station that accommodates patients, five private areas and five more semi-private infusion stations. That pretty much doubles our current available space, which will be so much nicer for patients.”

The new center will offer a home-like environment with integrated services, including counseling, palliative care, nutrition guidance and more. Windows in some infusion areas overlook ponds and fountains.

“The center and its surrounding grounds offer a natural decor and a calming atmosphere,” Cox explains. “Along with soft, neutral tones and lighting inside, the outdoor environment includes serenity ponds, walking paths, prairie plantings, and elements of stone and wood. We want our patients to feel welcome, hopeful and comfortable. Given the new technology and a good-sized lab on-site, we’ll be able to handle just about all of our patients’ needs right here,” says Cox.

“Plus, the Cancer Center will provide on-site medication preparation, as well,” she adds. “We have space to accommodate support group meetings and to provide stress-relieving services for patients and their family members.”

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