When Carol Davis of Botkinburg was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2010, her medical oncologist, Kamal Patel, M.D., explained that her treatment would include a weekly chemotherapy.
Every other week, Davis made the more than 100 mile round-trip drive to Little Rock Hematology/Oncology, a division of CARTI, where she would be hooked to an IV and have a two-hour infusion necessary to help her body battle the disease.
"It was difficult because the drive to Little Rock was hard," says Davis.
Single at the time, Davis would often have to hire someone to drive her to and from treatments due to the overwhelming fatigue she would experience following her chemotherapy sessions.
Fortunately, however, Patel was able to offer Davis treatment at Ozark Health Medical Center in Clinton on alternate weeks as part of a professional partnership between the hospital and the nonprofit cancer care network.
"Dr. Patel is just wonderful, and the fact that they made treatments available every other week in Clinton was great," says Davis.
Now, in an effort to make treatment more readily available to area cancer patients and reducing travel burdens, Patel and his medical team have recently been able to increase chemotherapy offerings at OHMC to once a week, every Wednesday, in a newly built section of the hospital.
"Adding treatment days not only makes it easier for our patients and their families, but it also allows us to see additional patients who would prefer to get their treatment closer to home instead of making a long, round-trip drive," explains Patel. "That is our main goal."
"Like CARTI, Ozark Health Medical Center is committed to offering high quality cancer care close to home," says Patel. "Fortunately, because of our strong relationship with the hospital, this partnership allows us both to do just that."
David Deaton, OHMC chief executive officer, says joining forces with CARTI to make treatment more geographically convenient allows area cancer patients to more fully focus on recovery.
"You know, it wasn’t the drive to Little Rock that was hard on our cancer patients, it was really the drive back," observes Deaton. "Once they received their treatments, they would be fatigued and need rest, so saving them an almost two-hour drive home truly makes this arrangement worthwhile."
Cancer survivors like Davis can attest to the difficulty of coordinating travel with treatment, particularly when cancer-related fatigue can often drain a patient’s energy to the point of complete exhaustion.
"I simply could not drive myself home," recalls Davis. "When I had to be in Little Rock for treatment, I would generally have to allow for at least two hours each way."
Deaton points to members of the Ozark Health Auxiliary as having played a significant role in bringing the newly added chemotherapy lounge to fruition, notably by purchasing 14 specially designed treatment chairs valued at $1,500 each.
"Our volunteers worked very hard for this," says Deaton. "They are truly committed to the well-being of our patients, and all of the proceeds from the Auxiliary Gift Shop are dedicated to projects like this."
CARTI is an independent, nonprofit network of cancer care facilities with centers located throughout Arkansas in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Benton, Clinton, Conway, El Dorado, Heber Springs, Morrilton, Mountain Home and Searcy. For more information, visit www.carti.com.