New Cancer Center Makes Treatment Convenient
The new Cancer Center at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital offers technologically-advanced radiation and infusion treatments.
Long commutes for cancer treatment can add to a patient's stress. However, the new Cancer Center at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Grayslake makes cutting-edge treatments convenient for patients in central and northern Lake County. The center, which offers radiation and infusion therapy, is now fully functional and welcoming patients.
"Radiation/oncology patients generally get treated for five to eight weeks, and the treatment is five days a week. Providing a center that is closer to where they live can have a major impact on their lives," said Dr. Joseph Imperato, MD, medical director of radiation oncology.
The new 8,750-square-foot Cancer Center is part of a $49 million expansion to the hospital on Belvidere Road in Grayslake. The expansion also includes a surgical center, which will open in spring of 2011.
The Cancer Center offers up-close parking for a patients and a separate entrance. Throughout the interior, there are tall windows with natural views of prairie. The technology at the center is state-0f-the-art.
"Our equipment is top of the line," Imperato said. "It's as good as it gets; we can be more accurate when treating with radiation to avoid the normal tissue. There are fewer side effects and a higher efficacy of treatment."
Imperato gave an example of an elderly patient with lung cancer who would be a surgery risk. However, the technology allows the radiation to be extremely focused on the cancer, and in fewer treatments.
The radiation is administered in a room with dimmed lights, a decorative skylight and a very peaceful setting, with an Elekta Infinity Linear Accelerator, an image-guided radiation therapy system. The radiation therapist monitors treatment from another room with computer screens that allows her to pinpoint the exact location of the cancer.
"This environment is very relaxing for patients; it helps take the scary part out of radiation therapy," said Karlene Peal, director of the Cancer Center. Radiation Therapist Sarah Lashinski added that patients say the ambiance is very calming and they are often surprised how quickly it is over.
Mary Catherine Ryan, a breast cancer patient, was one of the first patients to be treated at the new facility. A resident of Hawthorne Woods, she chose the Grayslake site, rather than Lake Forest, because it is an easier commute. Ryan said she was impressed with the beauty of the center, but has been more impressed with the staff.
"The building and the equipment are great, but what's really good is the staff," Ryan said. "Dr. Imperato is wonderful and I work with three radiation specialists, who help me feel comfortable and answer my questions."
In the infusion wing of the Cancer Center, the rooms where patients receive their treatments overlook views of the prairie. Nurse Manager Susan Balling said the first patients were impressed with the beauty of the center. She said many patients are from northern Lake County so their commutes are cut in half.
The Cancer Center benefits patients by having both infusion treatment and radiation treatment in one location. Imperato said cancer patients are often treated with both methods and find it comforting that their needs can be met in the same place. He said, with new technology, patient information is accessible. This makes it easier for doctors to coordinate treatment. It also allows doctors to look at a patient's records from a home computer, without having to locate charts.
The center is planning a healing garden that will open in the spring. The center will also offer education and support programs, such as a free wig and scarf boutique on the fourth Wednesday of the month, together with the American Cancer Society.