Patients needing medication frequently are treated with pills, other oral medications or shots. Those with more serious conditions, however, often need drugs delivered directly into their veins by IV or by intramuscular injections.
That’s when an infusion center enters the treatment picture. Mercy Hospital Carthage has had a center for many years that recently expanded to become the McCune-Brooks Health Care Foundation Infusion Center thanks to $750,000 in donations.
The center moved into expanded space in 2015. This is when chemotherapy treatment for oncology patients was available at the Carthage campus for the first time. Previously, most of the infusions were at the small center across the hall, where the majority were rheumatology patients, according to Chalaine Bell, infusion center manager.
“It’s the infusion center that administers the drug appropriately with safeguards in place to make sure dosing is appropriate,” Dr. LaFrancis said. “The pharmacy has a close relationship with the infusion center to make sure a drug gets mixed correctly and the dosage is monitored and accurate to what’s been ordered.”
Medications are mixed specifically to each patient and are not mixed by the pharmacy until the patient has arrived. Many medications must be used within a certain time frame, so it is important for the patient to be ready for infusion by the time their medications are mixed.
Medications sometimes can be expensive for patients; however, there are programs for some medications in which the cost may be reduced or covered. Mercy can assist patients in finding some of these programs.
Many infusion patients are being treated for cancer. In addition to chemotherapy, a common IV treatment for many types of patients is antibiotics, Dr. LaFrancis said, such as when there is concern about infection and medicine needs to be administered quickly.
The infusion center also provides infusions for iron, blood, hydration and a variety of other treatments. Some patients receive treatment through a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) positioned in a large vein that carries blood into the heart. A PICC line is used for long-term IV antibiotics, nutrition or medications, as well as for blood draws.
Patients with ports also are treated in the center. A port is a small appliance installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein and most often is used to treat hematology and oncology patients.
The center has two oncology-certified nurses, one of whom is PICC-certified. If there is a patient emergency, the two nurses are trained for many situations, but also have the emergency department on site if needed.
Many of the physicians who order infusions are in their clinics, which are very close to the infusion center. This is convenient for patients who may see their physician and get their infusion all in the same day and in the same location.
“Every patient is unique and requires specialized care,” Bell said. “It is our desire to help those who come to us in need. We try to live the Mercy mission by bringing to life the healing ministry of Jesus through our compassionate care and exceptional service.”
For more information on the McCune-Brooks Health Care Foundation Infusion Center at Mercy Hospital Carthage, 3125 Dr. Russell Smith Way, call 417-359-2672.