2018-01-31 / Front Page

Putnam County Hospital Cancer Center outreach programs a success in 2017

The Putnam County Hospital (PCH) Cancer Center, in partnership with the Franciscan Health Group, was very busy in 2017 with our efforts to bring the best possible cancer and hematologic care to our local residents. One of our goals is to provide the education and tools to help our 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 over 350 PCH employees, attendance at various events in our community, in-services for physicians and medical staff, free sunscreen giveaways, surveys, passing out smoking cessation material, making referrals to the smoking cessation program, and skin and prostate screening programs.

In March, we promoted colon cancer awareness as colon cancer is our 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 over 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, our 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 Dr. LG Palanca, Dr. Frank Lloyd Jr., Dr. Paul Szotek, Dr. Thomas Black, Dr. Keith Landry, and the Meridian Medical Group at the PCH Surgery Center. This is a 39 percent increase from last year. There were 11 colon and rectal cancers diagnosed at PCH in 2017.

We sent emails to over 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 our main lobby. We also provided education and sunscreen to 95 participants at the local 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 given out at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in May.

On May 31, 2017, we had a skin screening event for local residents with 39 participants. Dr. John Stevens and Physician’s Assistant Andrew Burns discovered lesions on 13 participants who were referred to dermatologists for further evaluation.

On May 1, 2017, we had a “Look Good, Feel Better” program for area patients who are currently in treatment for cancer.

This program provides instruction on hair styling and makeup application along with free makeup kits. Side effects from chemotherapy can be devastating and this can boost esteem and self-confidence during this time.

August was designated as smoking cessation and lung cancer awareness month at PCH. Lung cancer is rated as the second most prevalent cancer in Putnam County with a report of 20 percent of our residents who smoke according to the 2016 Community Needs Assessment. We set up an education table in the PCH lobby with educational materials and the Franciscan Health ASPIRE (tobacco free) program brochures and a poster board display.

PCH completed 261 low dose lung screening CT scans (LDCT). The results follow: 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 CT’s 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.

There were nine participants from the LDCT lung screening that were referred to the ASPIRE program. Smoking cessation information was also offered to 460 PCH admitted or 23 hour observation patients who smoke. We have had 25 participants join 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.

Breast cancer awareness month was in October and 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.

We surveyed participants and this report showed that after receiving the 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, we had a Breast Cancer Awareness Open House for the public and had 77 participants in our balloon release event.

There were education displays concerning breast cancer awareness and mammograms. Our goal was to educate about the importance of mammograms and to increase the number of mammograms done in the month of October.

The results revealed an increase of 11 percent in the number of mammograms done in October of 2017. A total of 1736 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 at the Dine with a Doc program. He discussed melanoma and ways to protect your skin from cancers.

A prostate screening was done on Nov. 28 with 59 participants. Dr. Sameer Ahmed, Dr. Mahesh Sreedasyam, Dr. LG Palanca, and Dr. 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. There were five participants with elevated blood tests, four with positive occult stool tests, and a total of 37 who had recommendations for further evaluation.

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

Almost every person has either been affected by cancer or has a loved one or friend who has been touched by it. In our fight against cancer, we want our local residents to be armed with the information and the best defense to prevent or find cancer as soon as possible. Here at Putnam County Hospital Cancer Center, we use 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.

Our partnership with St. Francis Franciscan Health has increased our access to many specialties and increased services that enhance our patient care.

We would like to thank the physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, clinics, St. Francis Franciscan Health, and the entire PCH staff for their support and dedication to our Cancer Center and our outreach programs.

Another big thank you goes to the individuals, businesses, organizations, and churches who have so generously donated handmade and bought items, financial contributions, their personal time, and helped in any way so that we can make a difference in the lives of local residents and those who are battling cancer.

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