Mountaintop Medicine: Stay close to family and friends for infusion services at Estes Park Health
Lynn Myers is an Estes Park retiree who comes to Estes Park Health six days a week for lab tests or infusions of blood products to treat his bone marrow cancer, Myelodysplastic syndrome. He’s one of many patients who enjoy the personalized treatment they receive in the Infusion Center.
Lynn’s wife, Kay, often sits by his side. She has donated warm quilts to the Infusion Center for other patients who may get cold during their therapy.
“This staff is wonderful,” Kay commented. “And I know he’s well taken care of when he’s here.”
For Kay and Lynn, having Infusion Services at Estes Park Health means the couple doesn’t have to move away from Estes Park to get the life-saving care he needs.
“As long as we can stay up here and be here and have this here, it’s really great,” she added.
In addition to cancer patients who need platelets or chemotherapy, Estes Park Health’s Infusion Center also delivers IV antibiotics and biologic treatments for chronic immunosuppressive disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease.
“Infusion is any drug that you are getting that goes through an IV line,” explained Matt Makelky, Infusion and Pharmacy Senior Director. “That can either be through an arm of a chest port. It’s just one of those drugs that you would usually get inpatient, but we’re offering it outpatient through our service.”
Much of the infusion care starts in the pharmacy, where staff members make sure the medicines are prepared to be delivered safely in the right dose to the right patient at the right time.
Jan Hiester is recovering from a spinal infection and needs antibiotic infusions seven days a week for weeks at a time. She sings the praises of the staff running the Infusion Center.
“Kevin and Jenn and Cathy are wonderful,” Jan said. “They make this whole ordeal a little less painful.”
Kevin Outwater is one of Jan’s nurses. He likes working in a department where he can develop a bond with his patients.
“I like to get to know people and we get to see the same patients over and over a lot of times and so you get to build a relationship with them,” he noted. “Having these services in Estes Park helps the patients to get the care they need right here in the town they live in.”
The patients and the staff enjoy the bright airiness of the window-filled Infusion Center.
“We’ve got some really big windows here,” Kevin commented. “We’ve got a great view of Lumpy and Twin Owls, so I always look out there.”
Jennifer Godfrey — the other Registered Nurse who administers therapies in the Infusion Center – said the Infusion Center is the best spot in the hospital due to all the windows.
“Just because we’re a smaller hospital doesn’t mean we’re not proficient and efficient and doing everything correctly and you’re not having great care, because you are,” Jennifer stated. “You come in. You get more one on one care. You also get good and safe care as well.”
Medical oncologist Dr. Matt Sorenson travels to Estes Park Health every other Monday to guide cancer patients’ care. He says having the opportunity for chemo and infusions in Estes Park is a boon for patients.
“Whenever we can remove some logistically challenging things from an otherwise difficult situation, it’s a big advantage, Dr. Sorenson stressed. “I think it’s great when you can bring patient to services as opposed to patients having to travel to see you.I have a whole team of colleagues down the hill that are ready and waiting and this same kind of collaborative energy that happens there. So it’s kind of like having a team from a distance. It’s an honor to be able to come up here. I mean, obviously it’s a beautiful environment. It’s a privilege to be able to practice in a place like this. I love it. I love coming up here.”
The community has been a big supporter of cancer care at Estes Park Health. The Estes Park Health Foundation raised thousands of dollars during the 2022 Rooftop Rodeo to benefit the Infusion Center.
“The Foundation works each year to support cancer care in the community through our Crowns for the Care campaign,” described Kevin Mullin, EPH Foundation President. “The Foundation wants to do anything it can to support Estes Park Health’s goal of providing those services right here in our community.”
Estes Park Health is proud to reintroduce chemotherapy for those who need the life-saving treatment close to home.
“Chemotherapy close to home is good medicine,” Matt said. “Our staff knows the people. You see them once a week. You get the same nurses all the time. And that’s what makes the difference.”
For more information about Infusion Services at Estes Park Health, go to Stay Close to Family and Friends for Infusion Services – Estes Park Health (eph.org).