Valley’s oncology program offers patients the highest-quality curative and palliative care. At the core of the services are experienced, dedicated professionals and the most up-to-date equipment and pharmaceuticals.
On the oncology unit, all nurses are chemotherapy-certified and trained in symptom management including pain management. Many of the RNs have received national certification in oncology nursing. They are skilled in administering chemotherapy orally, intravenously, by injection, by intrathecal catheter (delivery of drugs into the spinal fluid) or in a combination of these methods. An on-site pharmacist is closely involved with the medications required for each patient.
Patients receiving radiation therapy, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy, are assured of quality treatment. Valley's Radiation Oncology Department has a well-trained staff led by physicians who are nationally recognized in their specialty.
Treatment options also include hormone therapy, with tamoxifen used to treat breast cancer and lupron for prostate cancer. These hormones target tumor receptor sites to inhibit tumors from progressing or to make them regress.
When necessary, Valley's oncology services provide supportive therapy to counteract low red or white blood counts, both common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. If their red blood count falls, patients may receive blood transfusions or injections of medication that boost red or white blood counts. Immunotherapy (the replacement of immunoglobulin) may be needed to increase immunity if the white blood count falls. When blood counts are elevated with supportive therapy, patients feel stronger and less fatigued
Patients who experience nausea and vomiting – also common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation – may receive drugs called antiemetics, which relieve symptoms effectively.
Because Valley believes that comfort and pain relief are integral components of cancer care, it has formed a palliative care team that includes a psychiatrist, the Director of Medicine, social workers, a hospice nurse, the nurse/manager of oncology services, a pastoral care nurse, the Director of Patient Relations and staff nurses. The team, an important part of Valley's oncology services, meets weekly to discuss patients' needs.
A major focus of the palliative care program is pain management. Valley's professionals feel that no one should have to suffer with pain.
Oncology social workers are available for counseling, and pastoral care personnel can assist in exploration of spiritual concerns. A case manager and home care RN are also a part of the dedicated oncology inpatient team.
For cancer patients who desire help in reducing stress, Valley offers classes in relaxation techniques, such as visualization. In addition, patients may request sessions of therapeutic touch, which creates a relaxation response by balancing energy. Numerous inpatient nurses have been trained in the different modalities of Holistic Nursing Practice including aromatherapy, therapeutic touch, Reiki, and guided imagery.
When time comes to leave the hospital, a team prepares the patient for discharge.