PCH Cancer Center details 2017 outreach plan and outcomes

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Putnam County Hospital (PCH) Cancer Center, in partnership with the Franciscan Health Group, was busy in 2017 with efforts to bring the best possible cancer and hematologic care to local residents.

One of its goals is to provide the education and tools to help community members prevent or find cancer at its earliest stages when it can be more easily treated. Some of the methods used for this goal were informational tables set up at local events and the PCH lobbies, emails sent to PCH employees, attendance at various community events, in-services for physicians and medical staff, sunscreen giveaways, surveys, passing out smoking cessation materials, referrals to the Smoking Cessation Program, and skin and prostate screening programs.

In March, the Cancer Center promoted Colon Cancer Awareness as colon cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer, according to the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment.

Colon Cancer can be prevented if pre-cancerous polyps are removed. Educational emails were sent to more than 350 employees and an information table was set up in the lobby with a poster board display and education for visitors, patients and employees.

Dr. LG Palanca, PCH cancer liaison physician, presented a program on colon and breast cancer to area residents at the Dine with a Doc program. There were 559 colonoscopies done at PCH during 2017, performed by Drs. Palanca, Frank Lloyd Jr., Paul Szotek, Thomas Black, Keith Landry and the Meridian Medical Group at the PCH Surgery Center, marking a 39 percent increase from last year. There were 11 colon and rectal cancers diagnosed at PCH in 2017.

Emails were sent to more than 350 employees with education on Skin Cancer Awareness in the months of May, June and July. Skin cancer can be prevented with the use of sunscreen and avoidance of exposure to the UV rays of the sun and tanning beds. Education and a poster board display were available to PCH visitors, patients and employees in the main lobby. Education and sunscreen were provided to 95 participants at the county fair in July.

Another 150 tubes of sunscreen were given to PCH patients, visitors and employees along with an additional 50 tubes of sunscreen and education distributed at the American Cancer Societyís Relay for Life in May.

A skin screening event on May 31 drew 39 participants. Dr. John Stevens and Physicianís Assistant Andrew Burns discovered lesions on 13 participants who were referred to dermatologists for further evaluation.

On May 1, a Look Good, Feel Better program helped area patients currently in treatment for cancer get instruction on hairstyling and make-up application along with free make-up kits. Side effects from chemotherapy can be devastating and the program can boost esteem and self-confidence during this time.

August was designated Smoking Cessation and Lung Cancer Awareness Month at PCH. Lung cancer is rated as the second most prevalent cancer in Putnam County with a reported 20 percent of local residents who smoke, according to the 2016 Community Needs Assessment. The Cancer Center set up an education table in the PCH lobby and the Franciscan Health ASPIRE (Tobacco Free) program brochures and display.

In 2017, PCH completed 261 Low Dose Lung Screening CT Scans (LDCT), producing these results: 185 participants needed annual follow-up LDCT, 19 needed LDCT in six months, 17 needed further testing with three positive findings of lung cancer.

All those who received the Low Dose Screening CTís were given a survey and those who actively smoke were offered smoking cessation education and a referral to the Franciscan/Putnam County Hospital ASPIRE program. Nine participants from the LDCT lung screening were referred to the ASPIRE program. Smoking cessation information was also offered to 460 PCH admitted or 23 hour observation patients who smoke. Twenty-five participants joined the ASPIRE program with eight who have successfully quit smoking since the inception in May 2016.

According to the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in Putnam County.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, educational emails were sent to 399 PCH employees and a display with education and brochures was in the main lobby of the hospital for visitors, patients and employees. Participants were surveyed and a report showed that after receiving education, an increase of 50 percent of the respondents would do monthly self-breast exams and an increase of 17 percent would get annual mammograms.

On Oct. 6, a Breast Cancer Awareness Open House included 77 participants taking part in a balloon release event along with education displays concerning breast cancer awareness and mammograms.

The Cancer Center goal was to educate about the importance of mammograms and to increase the number of mammograms done during October. Results revealed an increase of 11 percent in the number of mammograms done in October 2017. A total of 1,736 mammograms were done at PCH in 2017 with 37 biopsies and 19 of those were positive for breast cancer.

The Dine with a Doc program is a free community-based program that welcomes local senior citizens to hear an educational topic and ask questions while enjoying a complimentary lunch. In October, Dr. Sameer Ahmed, medical oncologist/hematologist, was the speaker, discussing melanoma and ways to protect your skin from cancers.

A prostate screening was done Nov. 28 with 59 participants. Drs. Ahmed, Mahesh Sreedasyam, LG Palanca and Robert Heavin volunteered their time to do the exams. A prostate blood test was done by the PCH lab department for a reduced rate of $10. Five participants had elevated blood tests, four with positive occult stool tests, and 37 recommended for further evaluation.

The PCH Cancer Center provides a support group for all cancer patients and loved ones on the third Tuesday of each month. Meetings take place in the Cancer Center lobby on the second floor of the hospital with a variety of topics such as survivorship, insurance and costs related to cancer diagnosis, side effects and how to care for someone who has cancer being discussed. Attendees can find answers to questions, local resources and talk with someone else going through some of same experiences with cancer.

The PCH Cancer Center uses the most up-to-date treatment strategies recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a not-for-profit alliance of leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research and education, that is dedicated to providing evidence-based guidelines for cancer treatment. The partnership with St. Francis Franciscan Health has increased access to many specialties and increased services that enhance PCH patient care.

Officials want to thank physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, clinics, St. Francis Franciscan Health, and the entire PCH staff for their support and dedication to the Cancer Center and its outreach programs. Thanks also go to the individuals, businesses, organizations and churches who have donated hand-made and purchased items, financial contributions, personal time and helped in any way to help make a difference in the lives of local residents and those battling cancer.

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