Charlye Jenkins, Julie Wernimont, Mallory Kaemmer, radiation therapist from Cedar Rapids, Briana Nagel, Janaan Roberts and Julie Bartmann in front of a linear accelerator at the Wendt Regional Cancer Center in Dubuque.
While Iowa communities and residents continue to clean up from a weather system that left devastation scattered across the state, the need for medical care and specialized treatments doesn’t stop. With power outages stretching into multiple days, finding alternate care options for cancer patients became a necessity.
When being treated for cancer, the continuity of radiation treatments is an important part of a cancer patient’s care plan.
“For patients to gain the maximum benefits from radiation treatments, it’s encouraged they receive the full prescribed radiation dose without significant breaks,” Charlye Jenkins, radiation therapist at UnityPoint Health’s Wendt Regional Cancer Center in Dubuque, said. “This allows the radiation to target and kill the cancer cells, as each treatment continues to further destroy the cancer cells.”
That’s why the Wendt Center teamed up with the Nassif Community Cancer Center in Cedar Rapids by stepping in to care for cancer patients. The staff at the Wendt Center opened their doors for one radiation therapist and 10 patients from Cedar Rapids to provide and receive radiation treatments. Over the course of four days, the Wendt Center assisted with 29 radiation treatments.
One of the benefits of being part of the UnityPoint Health system is that UnityPoint Health radiation oncology departments across Iowa and Illinois share a common database that is used during cancer treatment. By utilizing the database, it was a seamless transition to provide care in Dubuque for Cedar Rapids patients.
“These databases are completely segregated but with proper approvals, we can access an affiliate’s database and with the click of a mouse have everything we need to treat a patient in another facility,” Mike Kelly, Manager of the Wendt Center, said. “This allows UnityPoint Health affiliates to treat another affiliate’s patients without any delays.”
Patsy Power is undergoing treatments for lung cancer and was one of the patients that made the trek from the Cedar Rapids area to Dubuque for radiation treatment three times.
With the teams at the Wendt Center and Nassif Community Cancer Center working with another to treat patients, Patsy was impressed with how the teams worked with one another.
“It wasn’t like they each had their own way of doing things,” Power said. “They knew exactly what they were doing and worked together really well. I felt very comfortable getting treatment done in a different place, because everyone was very friendly and nice. They just really took care of you.”
By offering cancer patients from the Cedar Rapids area a place to go to continue receiving cancer treatments returned a favor that the Nassif Community Cancer Center provided to the Wendt Center.
“Our family at the Nassif Community Cancer Center has also stepped up to the plate and have helped us care for our own Wendt Center patients in the past,” Kelly said. “This past weekend, we were able to return the favor and help them treat their patients here at the Wendt Center due to the storm of the decade. Family looking out for family, that’s what you do.”
Once the derecho storm stopped treatments at the Nassif Community Cancer Center, the staff at the Wendt Center was more than willing to step in to help patients move forward in their treatment journey.
“After the derecho suddenly stopped patients’ radiation treatments in Cedar Rapids, we were happy to have the ability to provide care they needed,” Jenkins said. “Our team enjoyed being able to give back to those patients and allow them to continue their fight against cancer.”