Partners in Jack’s care

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Hoeger family benefits from collaboration between the Community Cancer Center, UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids and Mayo Clinic Care Network

For six months, Jen and Marty Hoeger watched their five-year-old son Jack get sicker and sicker, but no one could tell them what was wrong. A trip to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, in 2005 gave the Hoegers an answer—and some hard news. Jack had a very rare brain cancer. “They told us there was no protocol for treatment,” recalls Jen Hoeger, “and no known survivors.”

Jack Hoeger, now 17, beat cancer with the help of his Mayo Clinic physicians. But he faced another fight—the struggle to become a healthy boy again. “Even in remission, the cancer’s not through with you. You have survivorship to deal with,” explains his mom. Cancer-free since 2006, Jack has battled seizures, brain damage, bouts of pneumonia and more. Always, there were trips back to Minnesota.

“We were driving up and back just for a blood draw,” says Jen Hoeger. “We had all his lab work, X-rays, everything done at Mayo. We trusted them.”

Over the last two years, Jack’s condition stabilized. On top of that, the Hoegers received more good news. In 2014, UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids became the first health system in Iowa to be selected as a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, based on quality, service and operational criteria.

“When we learned about the partnership between St. Luke’s and Mayo Clinic, it was a huge relief,” says Hoeger. “Mayo doctors were comfortable with Jack getting his diagnostic work done at St. Luke’s Hospital. And we were very comfortable having staff at St. Luke’s Hospital do it.”

In the past, routine lab work meant at least a full day off work to make the six-hour round trip to Rochester and in many cases required an overnight stay. “There were some scary times driving in bad weather,” Hoeger recalls. Now the work can be done locally, without the expense of travel and with less time away from work.

There’s another plus: Because Jack’s pediatrician, Lance Goodall, MD, is with UnityPoint Clinic, he has immediate access to Jack’s test results from St. Luke’s. And if something changes with Jack’s health, Hoeger knows Dr. Goodall and the Mayo Clinic team will work together on her son’s behalf, noting, “I feel more at ease knowing I can go to my local doctor and there will be good communication with Mayo.”

Jen Hoeger adds, “Our son is here because of the care he received at Mayo.” Now the relationship between Mayo Clinic, the Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center and UnityPoint Health Cedar Rapids makes it easier for the Hoegers to access that care without leaving home. “It’s a huge convenience,” says Hoeger, “It means peace of mind for all of us.”

Learn more about the collaboration between UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids, the Community Cancer Center and the Mayo Clinic Care Network at unitypoint.org/mayo.

 

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