NEW ULM — Janet Johnson says she’s never thought the cancer treatment at the New Ulm Medical Center was anything but first rate.
But there was a time when it did feel a little ... crowded.
“The very first room we were in was like a postage stamp,” she said last week while sitting through chemotherapy.
But if the previous area was like a postage stamp, the new area is like, well, a much bigger, better lit, more soothing version of the former postage stamp.
The New Ulm Medical Center’s cancer treatment took a giant leap forward recently. Not only did it add a few thousand square feet, it also renovated existing space and upgraded its equipment.
Perhaps most importantly, it has affiliated its cancer center with the Virginia Piper Institute, a Twin Cities-based major player in cancer treatment and research. Having that affiliation has allowed the center to offer cancer treatment options that weren’t available before and some that aren’t available in the immediate area.
Why all the change? Quite simply, the answer is growth.
Prior to the switchover, which occurred in November, demand for services was growing at a fast rate. Last year, the center saw 40 percent more patients than they’d seen four years prior.
The upgrade project, which was mostly a renovation of existing hospital space, made several significant improvements to the center’s ability to treat patients:
n There are now 12 chemotherapy infusion bays, where previously there were just six.
n Infusion bay chairs are now heated, and there is a private television at each one.
n New Ulm’s facility offers qualifying patients access to clinical trials as well as genetic counseling.
n They’ve added so-called “integrated therapies” such as massage, aromatherapy and music therapy.
n All nurses in the center are either certified oncology nurses or are in the process of becoming certified. Also, oncologist Ettore Piroso now works full time at the center.