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Cancer patient amazed with new Belleville oncology unit

By Kristen Oelschlagel.

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BELLEVILLE (12/07/12) Margie Burness, cancer patient at Belleville General Hospital, stands in the new oncology unit at the hospital. Photo by Kristen Oelschlagel.

Margie Burness knows what it’s like to struggle with cancer and endure the chemotherapy treatments that go along with it, but a new oncology unit is giving her something to look forward to.

“It’s amazing, it really is amazing,” said Burness, a cancer patient at Belleville General Hospital.

“It’s a lot more spacious and there’s a lot more privacy. In the old unit there’s not a lot of privacy and there’s a lot of very reality based conversations that go on, so it will be nice to have that privacy.”

Belleville General Hospital’s new oncology clinic won’t start being used until early September but the public was given a chance to tour the unit on July 12. Currently, patients are treated in an old pediatric room with minimal space and only two assessment rooms. The new unit will be over 2000 square feet larger and have five assessment rooms as well as counseling space and eight treatment areas, each with their own television.

Burness said the new space will especially help out new patients.

“I know now that I’ve had three treatments and I see a new patient come in, that it’s really intimidating and very overwhelming. It’s a real dose of reality when you get hooked up on that unit, so I think it will work out a lot better for new patients,” said Burness.

Linda Robb Blenderman, manager of the oncology centre, said the space will also make it easier for the physician and nurses to do their jobs.

“We have wall mounted computers so now the physician can show the patient the results of their MRI or CAT scan there in the room,” Blenderman said.

“We also have a state of the art pharmacy and it’s bigger than what we had. Our chemotherapy area is larger and has a chemotherapy drug pass through between the pharmacy and the chemo clinic which makes it safer to deliver drugs to the nurses.”

Connie Jezni – a registered nurse in the oncology unit, said that treatments can range from a five minute injection to six hours on an IV. The new unit gives them room to make all patients comfortable.

“Now we have a stretcher room, for patients who come in and maybe need to lie down. We had one before but it was small, almost just like a closet. We also have space for family members to sit with patients comfortably even if they’re there for a longer treatment,” said Jezni.

Jezni said they also have an extra room that can be used as an isolation room or for minor procedures and a new waiting room with a kitchen area for the volunteers to make sure the patients have anything they need while they’re waiting.

“It’s like going from a little Kia and upgrading to a Cadillac,” Jezni said.

Susan Rowe, director of communications, said the new oncology unit is part of the entire redevelopment of the hospital, which started in 2007 and included the opening of the Sills wing and the ICU. The next phases will include a new emergency room and laboratory opening in spring 2013, and renovated surgical suites opening in 2014.

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