Cancer and Infusion Center opens  at Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital

Jean Hammann is one of the infusion registered nurses at the new Grand Itasca Cancer and Infusion Center. Pictured in the background are six of the 12 infusion bays

Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital in Grand Rapids opened its new Cancer and Infusion Center in mid-February, and the hospital’s foundation was instrumental in making the treatment space a reality.

Construction for the project, which converted existing hospital space into a 9,000-square-foot clinical oncology area with infusion therapy bays, began last summer and cost $4.1 million.

Prior to the remodel, Grand Itasca was lacking a true infusion center. Patients were treated in a makeshift area in the back of the ICU consisting of two rooms with three chairs each.  

The newly completed Cancer and Infusion Center now has 12 private and semi-private infusion bays — each with a view to the outdoors — a dedicated pharmacy and a private entrance and registration area to increase patient safety.

“Our patients would rave about our nurses and providers and the care they received and now it was time to create the space to match this care,” said Grand Itasca Foundation Director Kelly Kirwin.

The new Cancer and Infusion Center brings together oncologists, nurses and pharmacists in one space so they can work collaboratively to provide personalized patient care. In addition to chemotherapy, patients may receive infusion therapy for conditions such as low iron and rheumatoid arthritis.

Comfortable recliners and beds for longer infusions were furnished to accommodate patients who cannot tolerate prolonged periods of sitting. They and their families now also have access to a designated healing garden.

All the amenities in the new space were driven by feedback from current patients and Grand Itasca’s team of infusion therapy nurses.

Said Kirwin: “Our Foundation became involved with this project because we exist to help fund projects that improve staff efficiencies and help increase patient satisfaction at Grand Itasca.”

More than $2 million of the costs were raised by the Grand Itasca Foundation’s ‘Close to Home’ capital campaign. Its steering committee set a goal to raise that amount in the fall of 2016, and through overwhelming community support, was able to far exceed that sum.

“The title of our campaign, ‘Close to Home’ was chosen by our campaign steering committee because, in the end, that is exactly what we wanted to accomplish.  We wanted to provide and expand cancer and infusion care for more people, closer to their home and closer to their family.  Our already incredible staff now has the space to match their compassionate care.  Our Foundation is honored to be a part of this project,” Kirwin said.

Grand Itasca has added a full-time Nurse Practitioner, Shannon Petroske, to manage the infusion center. The hospital also increased the number of days the oncologist, Dr. Anastas Provatas, sees patients.

Petroske graduated from the College of St. Scholastica with her master’s in nursing and specializes in oncology and hematology. She plans to establish a survivorship program as well as a support group at the hospital.

Dr. Anastas Provatas lives in the Grand Rapids area and also works for University of Minnesota Physicians (UMP).

The infusion center opened its doors on Feb. 12. At the end of its first week in operation, infusion registered nurse Jean Hammann said “All of our patients are so happy to be in our new space, and they love how it all turned out.  Our staff is excited, too, as they know how important this space and service is to patients in our community.”