The cancer center at the Jamestown Regional Medical Center is "exceeding expectations" since opening on June 17 of this year, said Mike Delfs, president and CEO of JRMC.
"We were originally projecting 40 to 45 treatments a month," Delfs said. "For the last two months, we've been over 100."
Coming up on its six month anniversary of providing treatment on Dec. 17, Trisha Jungels, chief nursing officer of JRMC, said the JRMC Cancer Center has been a "dream come true". Jungels said several years went into planning and financing the cancer center.
"It's like one of those moments where it's like 'pinch me, I'm dreaming,'" Jungels said. "Never give up, always keep looking for ways to make things happen, that's what this center demonstrates."
Katie Ryan-Anderson, marketing manager at JRMC, said the cancer center performed 462 infusions from July 1 to Oct. 30. Infusions include chemotherapy, blood or blood products, iron infusions, IV hydration and electrolyte replacement, immunoglobulin therapy, osteoporosis medications, medication for chronic illnesses like arthritis and Crohn's disease and steroids, according to JRMC.
Chris Siek, a patient at the JRMC Cancer Center, said having a treatment center in Jamestown has been extremely beneficial during his chemotherapy. Before the center opened, Siek was driving 90 miles to Fargo to receive treatment.
"It's nice being so close to home," Siek said. "I receive treatment Monday through Friday every day for four weeks straight, that's why it's huge not to have to drive to Fargo."
Siek said he has received just under 100 infusions since being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) on May 1. Siek said he has received five rounds of treatment total, with three of those being at JRMC Cancer Center.
Siek said one of his favorite parts of the cancer center is the friendly staff and the environment that has been established since the center first opened.
"It doesn't feel like you're at a treatment facility," Siek said. "Nobody I've talked to here has anything bad to say."
K.C. Robison, registered nurse at the JRMC Cancer Center, said creating a peaceful and friendly environment is one of the most important parts of his job.
"It's not an ideal place anybody wants to be but you want to make it as comfortable and as tolerable as possible for going through something like chemotherapy," Robison said. "I want to make their experience the best that it can be. I want to treat them like I would treat a family member."
Garret Hillius, also a registered nurse at the JRMC Cancer Center, said losing his mother to cancer nine years ago prepared him to assist patients who are also battling cancer.
"It just really hits home. I feel like I can relate to people because of what happened. It makes the care I provide better," Hillius said. "Nobody wants to be here, but we want to make this the best place that nobody wants to be. We take pride in that."
Robison noted the cancer center will be adding a full-time nurse practitioner and has looked into providing patients with a CADD pump, a take-home infusion treatment kit that gives milder side effects over a 46 to 48 hour span.
Delfs said the cancer center in Jamestown would not be possible without continuous community support.
"It wasn't the hospital saying we need this. It was the community saying we need this," Delfs said. "Suddenly 'can we do this' turned into 'all right, when can we do this'. It was community driven."
Ryan-Anderson said more than 1,700 people have made monetary donations to the cancer center while more donations are received in the form of clothes and other offerings.
"The biggest feedback I've gotten is gratefulness. I think the community of Jamestown is proud of its cancer center," Jungels said. "It's saving lives. I've heard nothing but positive things about gratefulness."
On Sept. 24, the JRMC Cancer Center saw for the first time since opening in June the ringing of the bell in the reception area, symbolizing the first patient completing treatment. Kari Smith, of Carrington, after being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in April, received her final two rounds of chemotherapy in Jamestown.
"It's nice to drive 40 minutes instead of two hours to Fargo," Smith said in a phone interview with The Sun on Oct. 17.
Siek said he has three weeks of infusions left before completing treatment on Dec. 20.
"It feels awesome being a part of something like this," Siek said. "Being so close to home ... it's just special."
On Dec. 2, Ryan-Anderson said the JRMC Cancer Center saw its second patient ring the bell as Sharon Yoder, of Jamestown, completed her infusion treatment.