Tradition says that a fifth anniversary should be marked with gifts of wood. But for the Tevis Center for Wellness and the William E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center—now both celebrating five years of operation—patients come bearing a more tempting variety of gifts.
“We get so many cakes and cookies from our patients,” Kathleen Erbacher, executive director of the William E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center, says with a warm laugh. “A patient’s husband baked us a cake from scratch every week during his wife’s treatment. Caring for our patients is an honor and a gift to all of us in the cancer center. Our incredibly kind and competent staff truly enjoys coming to work every day. The care we give really comes from the heart.”
Indeed, it takes a special kind of person to work at the two centers, and both have seen a jump in staffing as the demand for services has increased. The Tevis Center for Wellness has expanded from 10 to 30 full-time employees since its inception as patient volume in the center’s programs, care navigation, screenings and support groups has increased 102 percent. Likewise, the William E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center
has added new oncology specialists and a board-certified oncology pharmacist—one of only 63 in the state—as patient visits have increased 24 percent.
One explanation for the increase in demand is the centers’ physical proximity to one another in the hospital’s East Pavilion. This makes it easy for staff from each center to collaborate and connect patients to the other’s services.
“A lot of our Tevis Center patients are also our cancer center patients because we can fully support them as they’re going through treatment with things like massage and nutritional counseling—services that can significantly decrease side effects and improve overall quality of life,” explains Mary Peloquin, Carroll Hospital’s community health and wellness manager. “Not many cancer centers can offer this level of complementary services or this level of coordinated care. It’s pretty unique.”
Patient Rosemary Kestle agrees. She was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for endometrial cancer this winter when a friend introduced her to acupuncture at the Tevis Center for Wellness. At the time, the side effects from her chemotherapy were so debilitating that she was prepared to abandon her oncologist’s treatment plan altogether. Her acupuncture sessions at the Tevis Center changed everything.
“There was a noticeable difference the day after my very first session. It was honestly stunning,” Kestle recalls. “I bounced back a lot faster as far as my physical strength. Even horrific stomachaches that I’d had for years—I didn’t have them anymore. I cried; I was just so grateful.”
Through her acupuncture sessions, Kestle was able to complete her chemotherapy regimen in April. Now she wants to share her experience with other cancer patients.
“I wish more places had these resources. Patients should have all these options on the table,” says Kestle. “It’s not just about adding acupuncture to your treatment plan. It’s also about having more people to care for you hands-on, telling you that they love you and encouraging you to get through this. Healing takes a community of people.”