To provide around-the-clock service for cancer patients in need of urgent care, the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine has launched the 24/7 Cancer Care Clinic.
The facility’s goal is to treat cancer patients at Siteman suffering from nonacute issues such as nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and low blood counts quickly, but in a nonemergency-room setting.
“We’re trying to keep the oncology population out of the emergency department because it’s a dangerous place for them with their symptoms,” says Amy Determann, RN, manager of the 24/7 Cancer Care Clinic. For instance, cancer patients with lowered immune systems may wait in emergency-room lobbies near patients with infectious diseases such as the flu. Also, given the complex nature of many cancer regimens, some general emergency room staff may be unfamiliar with cancer medications. The Siteman 24/7 Cancer Clinic is staffed by specialists familiar with the range of oncologic treatments.
The clinic is composed of seven chemotherapy infusion chairs, three private treatment rooms and one negative-pressure room.
Siteman’s bone-marrow transplant weekend clinic also has relocated to the 24/7 clinic. Determann says patients should access the clinic by calling their oncologist or nurse coordinator, and stresses the clinic is only available for Siteman oncology patients. She adds the clinic is not a general emergency room but rather a specialty facility for Siteman patients with symptoms related to cancer. Those with acute problems like heart attack or stroke need to visit an emergency room.
Overall, Determann says the 24/7 Cancer Care Clinic—one of only a handful in the country—could be the future of treatment.