Med center adds space

FAIRMONT – Sunshine lit up the infusion therapy department Wednesday morning, as patients and employees at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont enjoyed their new space.

Construction began earlier this year.

“This has been a dream for four years,” said Bob Bartingale, administrator at the medical center.

Lined up along a wall of windows is an open area with six infusion therapy stations that can be separated by curtain.

“The curtains can be drawn, but that was a request we received from the patients, not to close them in with walls. They like the camaraderie with other patients,” Bartingale said.

The space is used for chemotherapy treatments, kidney dialysis and more. Patients in the department typically receive their medication by IV, though intramuscular or spinal column injections are also performed there.

“Treatments are six hours on average, so the patients who have been in here this week just love the windows,” said Darla Lytle, a nurse in the department.

A separate room with a bed is available for anyone who needs to lay down while undergoing treatment, or if someone wants more privacy.

To appreciate what the medical center now has to offer these patients, it’s important to look at what it had prior: small cramped quarters, with no windows and little privacy for patients in the five infusion stations. The waiting room had space for a couple of chairs, with only a moveable wall between people waiting to be seen and people undergoing treatment.

That same small waiting room was also where patients often first learned they had cancer. The oncologist’s office was located on the other side of the clinic.

“I’m amazed by the good comments I’ve heard about our services in the past. It’s truly a testament to our staff … because our facility was not conducive for great care,” Bartingale acknowledged.

The entire department is now centrally located. Across the hall from the infusion therapy space is the oncologist’s office, two exam rooms and a consultation room, where staff can sit down with patients and talk at length about their diagnosis and treatment options.

“Yesterday we had a patient in here for an hour and a half with a nurse,” Lytle said. “I don’t think that would have happened before.”

The project was made possible through a fundraising campaign that generated $245,000 from Fairmont Community Hospital Foundation and Mayo Clinic Health System’s Fairmont auxiliary. Mayo itself picked up the remainder of the bill for the project, which cost close to half a million.