2016-02-07 / Insight

Big city cancer care available in Lapeer

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Barb Langley, a respiratory therapist at Karmanos at McLaren Lapeer, watches over a patient undergoing treatment in one of two hyperbaric chambers at the facility. Dr. Leonard Benitez, a surgeon at McLaren, said along with being useful in wound care, the chambers can help combat some of the side effects of radiation treatment. 
Photo by Phil Foley Barb Langley, a respiratory therapist at Karmanos at McLaren Lapeer, watches over a patient undergoing treatment in one of two hyperbaric chambers at the facility. Dr. Leonard Benitez, a surgeon at McLaren, said along with being useful in wound care, the chambers can help combat some of the side effects of radiation treatment. Photo by Phil Foley LAPEER — Some people say a big city hospital with all their specialties and sub specialties is the way to go, others insist the small town hospital with family close by is the better option.

A little more than two years ago Lapeer County residents got the best of both worlds when McLaren Health Care purchased the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit and the McLaren Cancer Institute, located on Barry Drive behind McLaren Lapeer Region became Karmanos at McLaren Lapeer Region.

At the time, Bart Buxton, president and CEO of McLaren Lapeer Region, said “The access to clinical treatment will be available to everyone in Lapeer. That’s profound. We now have access to information that we never had before.”


Matthew Zielinski, Lapeer’s manager of medical oncology at Karmanos at McLaren Lapeer, noted the facility became one of just 10 QOCI (Quality Oncology Practice Initiative) certified facilities in the state. 
Photo by Phil Foley Matthew Zielinski, Lapeer’s manager of medical oncology at Karmanos at McLaren Lapeer, noted the facility became one of just 10 QOCI (Quality Oncology Practice Initiative) certified facilities in the state. Photo by Phil Foley What the Karmanos name in Lapeer over the past two years has meant, McLaren spokesman Susan Perry Nolte said, is access to a wider range of services than ever before.

Seeing a need for improved cancer care locally, Buxton led the fund raising effort to create the McLaren Cancer Institute in 2008.

Perry Nolte said physicians at Karmanos at McLaren Lapeer Region currently see about 500 patients a week. She said that while many patients have their surgeries done here in Lapeer, others go to the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit and then have all their follow up care, including chemo and radiation, done here at home.

Tammy Brown, the oncology program coordinator in Lapeer, said the facility now offers digital mammography, which shortens the wait between a patient’s initial exam and diagnosis by as much as two weeks. “That makes a big difference in the patient’s emotional well-being,” she said.

“We are constantly moving forward,” said Matthew Zielinski, Lapeer’s manager of medical oncology. Karmanos at McLaren Lapeer recently added a wig fitting room for patients.

Look Good Feel Better was already providing female patients with advice on how to deal with the unpleasant side effects of treatment the first Monday of each month and providing them with products donated by the cosmetic industry.

Karmanos, Perry- Nolte said, is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated facilities nationwide. Lapeer’s affiliation means patients get the same level of care whether here in Lapeer or at the main facility in downtown Detroit.

Karmanos’ network of physicians specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of the approximately 200 specific forms of cancer. Perry Nolte said that means some patients, such as pediatrics, that McLaren once referred to other facilities, can now get some of their care in Detroit and other parts of it locally.

Zielenski noted Lapeer was recently cited as one of 10 QOCI (Quality Oncology Practice Initiative) facilities in the state.

He added Lapeer has two of the best medical oncologists in the state and a group of radiation oncologists “who are outstanding in their field.” The center’s nurses, he said, are all oncology certified.

The center also has a hyperbaric chamber, which is used to treat wounds and infectious diseases, as well as some of the side effects of radiation treatment.

Adding Karmanos to the McLaren team, Brown said, “took us to a whole another level.”

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