Mercy cancer services are making a difference and saving lives. Cancer services at St. John’s Mercy in Washington are a combination of advanced medical technologies and know-how that includes Dr. Muhammad Azim Mirza at St. John’s Mercy Oncology, the David C. Pratt Cancer Center at St. John’s Mercy Hospital and the Dardick Family Infusion Therapy Center. What they offer are life-saving cancer services that are close to home.
“I always went to St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis for medical care but I opted to have cancer treatment here for the convenience and knowing that the Medical Center is behind them,” said St. Clair resident Larry Collier. “Dr. Mirza is a good doctor, a very caring doctor, and his nurses are great. They’re good people and I have a lot of respect for them.”
Dr. Mirza works fulltime at St. John’s Mercy Oncology, which is located in Suite 108 in the St. John’s Mercy Medical Building, 851 E. Fifth St. in Washington. The office is adjacent to the David C. Pratt Cancer Center at St. John’s Mercy Hospital and the Dardick Family Infusion Therapy Center, where Collier receives chemotherapy.
“I feel like Norm from the TV show ‘Cheers’ when I walk in there,” Collier said. “It’s a place where everybody knows your name.” Collier has developed such a close relationship with the staff, that he brings them gifts. He engraved their names in wood carvings that they keep at their desks. “Cancer patients there, no matter their diagnosis, have a positive attitude,” he said. “I think it’s because of the people who work there.”
Bonnie Riegel, a lifelong Washington-area resident, has felt support from the people of Mercy from the technicians and nurses to her radiologist and oncologist. She said, “If I had to go through this, I’m glad I went through it here.” Riegel sees Dr. Mirza and has gone though chemotherapy. She is finishing radiation treatments at the David C. Pratt Cancer Center where the radiation therapists sang “Happy Birthday” to her on her birthday and gave her flowers on Mother’s Day.
“It’s been so much easier on me that I can have treatments so close to home,” Riegel said. “And oh my God, it’s all right here. There’s no driving to St. Louis or running to a different building. I was really impressed by that.”
Riegel believes she received a level of care that people can only get from a hometown hospital. Being a local resident who was cared for by local residents meant she knew some of her caregivers, and that gave her a boost of confidence and emotional support just when she needed it. “Seeing a familiar face at the start made all the difference because if you’ve never had cancer, you don’t know what you’re going to go through,” Riegel said.
Connie Stelzer is the manager of the Dardick Family Infusion Therapy Center. She said, “When you’re going through cancer, you need a trusting and caring relationship with your doctor through your course of treatment and beyond. Dr. Mirza offers that kind of relationship and he is very skilled.”
Dr. Mirza’s approach to patient care is accessibility and compassion. “In oncology, the ability to help patients extends beyond medical care. You become a part of their daily lives in illness and health, in grief and joy,” he said. “The focus is always on what we need to do to best serve the patient.”
Riegel’s first appointment with Dr. Mirza was well over an hour. She came in with a list of questions for him, “and by the end, I didn’t have to ask any of them because he answered them for me,” Riegel said. “Overall, everyone there made cancer as easy and as bearable as possible. They told me what was coming before it happened, they took care of me, and now I feel good. I feel really good.”
Through his partnership with the David C. Pratt Cancer Center in Washington, Dr. Mirza offers patients who live and work in the Franklin County region access to the area’s most advanced diagnostic and treatment services and clinical trials. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mirza, call 636-432-0055 or talk to your primary physician about a referral.