New care facility will treat cancer patients closer to home
By Robert Williams
Perham Health and Sanford doctors, board members, employees and members of the community celebrated the expansion of space and services of the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center at Perham Health Wednesday, Oct. 25, in an official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Perham Health CEO Chuck Hofius opened the ceremony and introduced multiple speakers describing how the dynamic new care facility will help patients and their families receive treatment and have access closer to where they live alleviating what can be full days of travel and treatment for many cancer patients and their loved ones.
“Access to specialized cancer care in rural communities has historically been quite limited, and we hope the extension of the Roger Maris Cancer Center here at Perham Health will alleviate some of those heavy burdens that come with travel for treatment, allowing patients to receive their care closer to home,” Hofius said.
One example of that was provided in an inspiring speech by Perham Health Board member Mike Brasel, who is also a patient, having been diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago.
“How exciting is this to have a facility like this in Perham?” Brasel said. “It means a lot to be able to come here and do my treatments.”
Brasel explained how his first chemotherapy treatment was in Fargo, a 7 a.m. procedure which caused him to get up at 4 a.m. and make the trip for the all-day treatment and then having to turn around and do it the next day.
“To do that here is great,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to do my treatments here in that small room with two chairs and it was great. The staff here was excellent and I had a really good experience. They make it a lot easier.”
Brasel named each of the staff members who he described as a blessing to him during his treatment in Perham and announced he is now in remission to a round of applause from the crowd of 100 people.
The center’s expansion has more than tripled the service space with the facility now housing seven chemotherapy infusion chairs and a new cancer care provider.
Sanford Fargo Vice President Susan Jarvis echoed Hofius’ statement noting one of the key, strategic goals of the cancer center was bringing comprehensive and world class cancer care close to home for rural patients.
“What a beautiful space,” Jarvis said. “Today marks a special step forward in our mission to provide exceptional care close to home to the communities we serve. Since opening in 1990, the Roger Maris Cancer Center has been transforming rural cancer care and serves as a beacon of hope for those finding themselves in the fight against cancer.”
Perham Health is one of a dozen outreach cancer centers in Minnesota and North Dakota, according to Jarvis. Those locations served 6,000 patients last year.
“That’s 6,000 patients who spent less time traveling, felt less financial strains and had the opportunity to remain in the comfort of their home while they navigated an already challenging and exhausting journey,” said Jarvis.
The Perham care center opened in limited capacity last August with two infusion chairs.
“Knowing we would need to expand the services down the road we strategically left room here to grow,” said Jarvis. “In just one year, it became very clear that demand was growing faster than we ever anticipated and we needed more space.”
Jarvis highlighted traveling Oncology Specialist Mark Gitau, MD, who travels from Fargo to the outreach centers, along with Perham native Shelby Goodman, a nurse practitioner who serves patients in her hometown daily.
“Our incredible providers and staff of Roger Maris deliver compassionate, high-quality care, and are the reason the center has earned several nationwide recognitions,” said Jarvis.
In October, Roger Maris Cancer Center was named a top 100 oncology program in the nation by Becker’s Hospital Review.
Patients not only receive life-saving treatment, but also benefit from the array of resources offered by the Roger Maris Cancer Center. The nurse navigator program streamlines care coordination across various specialties, ensuring comprehensive and well-coordinated treatment plans. Recognizing the physical and emotional toll of cancer treatment, patients are provided a wide range of survivorship support services, alleviating the challenges of lengthy commutes and exhausting treatments.
“The Roger Maris Cancer Center shines as a beacon of cancer care in the upper Midwest,” said Kim Wolf, Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center director. “With decades of experience and unwavering dedication to enhancing the lives of cancer patients, we’re thrilled to expand on these services to Perham and the surrounding communities.”
The Roger Maris Cancer Center is transforming the future of cancer care, achieving some of the best cancer survival rates in the country thanks to the advanced treatment options achieved through Sanford Research clinical trials.
Perham Health is a 25-bed critical access hospital with three primary care clinics, a 96-bed nursing home, home care agency, adult day services and senior housing. The medical staff consists of 24 physicians, 14 advanced practice providers and 3 chiropractors. Visit perhamhealth.org to learn more.