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Medical Center Moving Toward the Future

By Cheryl Hentz

As we each think about our New Year’s resolutions and goals for the future, so is the Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center. CVRMC’s goals involve an investment of millions of dollars in medical equipment, moving the hospital into the future, with an eye toward improving diagnostic and medical treatment for patients.

Included in the new, state-of-the-art equipment are chemotherapy equipment, a 3D mammography machine, radiation equipment, and a nuclear medicine camera with CT scanner. All of this is helping move CVRMC another step forward in becoming a full-service hospital for the residents in the area, according to CEO Neal Jensen.

The hospital’s operational budget funds purchases of this kind of equipment, and Jensen explains that much goes into deciding what new equipment to purchase and when.

“We do a study every year to look at community needs ,” Jensen said. “We also listen to our doctors, community and our patients. It’s really a multi-factor approach to  make sure we have what we need to serve our region.”

“We also have to look at what we can afford,” Jensen added. He said, “There are services  that are needed and would be wonderful for our community, but due to the number of patients needing this service and high cost, we can’t financially provide them. 

“There are also a lot of services that we provide at a financial loss, but we do it because of the essential need for a strong and healthy community,” Jensen continued. “Obviously, some things must be profitable, or we’ll go out of business, but there are services we provide that will never cover costs.   They’re just the right things to do for our community.”

The right things have included several big ticket investments in new equipment.

“There’s a lot of services that we provide that we never make money on, but we do it because our community hospital needs it.” Neal Jensen, CEO. Photo by LCGross

Infusion and Chemotherapy Equipment

The new equipment and how it will benefit the people in the community is tremendous, says Tiffany Boyd, Cancer Center manager for CVRMC.  “We already had an infusion facility here, so it’s already helping patients because they don’t have to drive to the Valley for things like chemotherapy. Without this equipment, installed in October 2018, patients needing chemo would be driving upwards of maybe an hour to an hour-and-a-half each way. With the infusion capabilities here, we can provide chemotherapy and any other IV therapy here, so they’re not having to travel that distance, especially when they don’t feel well, for and after what could be a four-hour treatment.”

Enhanced 3D Mammography Equipment

Most hospitals have mammography equipment, but not all have 3D capabilities. The difference it makes has been likened to reading a book. Whereas a traditional mammogram is much like looking down on the cover of a book, a 3D mammography is akin to opening the book and flipping through it, page by page, seeing everything the book has inside.

Marilyn Rasmussen, seen here with her husband Jim, had to travel to the Valley every day to have radiation treatments and knows first hand how hard it is on patients to have to travel that far when they are sick. Photo by LCGross

Because of these enhanced capabilities, a 3D mammogram not only makes it easier to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage, but it also helps to identify the size and location more precisely and accurately.

CVRMC installed its 3D mammography machine in November 2019.

Marilyn Rasmussen, a member of the CVRMC Foundation board, who was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer early in 2019, said the 3D equipment could have helped diagnose her problems much earlier than they were had it been installed when she was experiencing issues.

“I had a mammogram in January and by April I knew something was wrong. If we’d had the 3D mammogram machine at that time, they possibly could have caught it earlier. Rasmussen who had a lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiation has been in remission since August.

Halcyon Radiation Equipment

The high-tech, state-of-the-art Halcyon radiation equipment is scheduled to be installed in March 2020 and will allow cancer patients to get all their oncology needs met in Globe, as opposed to having to drive elsewhere.

Obtaining this machine was a two-part step because they had to have staff to operate it, says Fernando Shipley, chairman of the CVRMC Board of Directors.  “We couldn’t even buy the equipment if we didn’t have someone to provide the service. So, we first had to draw the expertise that we needed to our area. Then we had to have a facility to put the equipment in,” he says. “We had a doctor who, in the past, offered radiation services but with much older equipment. So, we were able to acquire his facility (which was already on the hospital campus) and we had to agree to invest the money to retrofit that facility. We were then in a position where we could buy this new piece of equipment, which cost about $1.6 million.”

Rasmussen who had to travel to Gilbert to get her radiation treatments can speak from first hand experience.  “Having this radiation equipment here is going to make such a big difference to people in this community. The tiredness (of driving 90 minutes) was so horrible for me. I got home and I just crashed. It’s very hard for patients to travel like that when they’re sick.”

“Having both the chemotherapy and radiation here is a huge benefit for patients,” says Boyd, who adds that not having to make that drive and being able to get treated by people they know are part of their community is invaluable to patients’ peace of mind.

Tiffany Boyce, Cancer Center Manager with Leslie Carmichael, Oncology LPN and Linda Harris, Oncology RN. Photo by LCGross

NUCLEAR MEDICINE CAMERA/CT SCANNER

A new camera is being added in March as well to help with the detection of heart disease, pulmonary emboli, gall bladder issues and even cancers. Jensen explains that the new equipment will allow for higher definition images which significantly enhance diagnostic capabilities.

The equipment will be installed by March, at a cost of between $500,000 and $600,000, and will mean that CVRMC patients will get the same or better care here than if they drove to Phoenix, according to Jensen.

“I am very, very excited about what we’re bringing to the community. It’s been a long time in the planning stage, and now to see this (become a reality) is just super exciting.”

KEEPING TRUE TO THEIR MISSION

Fernando Shipley sits on the Hospital Board and the Foundation which helps to raise funds for additional expenditures needed by the hospital. Photo by LCGross.

Getting all this new equipment is keeping the hospital in line with its mission, says Shipley, who adds that being a nonprofit hospital board makes these kinds of investment decisions easier.

“We don’t have investors to answer to,” he says, “which means we don’t have to worry about whether investors are going to get a return on their investment, or whether they think it’s a good investment.”

We make those decisions for ourselves,” he says.

“We’re not necessarily looking to have money in the bank,” adds Shipley. “ We’re looking to do what we can for our community. Some things can’t just be about dollars; it’s got to be about what’s right. Being in a nonprofit setting is a luxury that not every hospital has.”

 

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