Monday, December 19, 2005

A Triumph at the Sutter Solano Center

A Triumph at the Sutter Solano Center

You walk across a small stream to enter Sutter Solano's new, state-of-the-art, 60,000-square-foot cancer center.

It is a marvel of technology with a new linear accelerator that has intensity-modulated radiation therapy - an advanced treatment for cancer that means more precise radiation doses for fewer side effects.

There is also a waterfall.

It's a place that offers chemotherapy, complementary medicine, and community education with a team of professionals that include radiation oncologists, therapists, oncology certified nurses and medical dosimetrists.

And it has gardens.

And a waterfall.

"Cancer is a highly complex disease which requires a multidisciplinary approach," says Janice Hoss, director of cancer services at Sutter Solano.

Or you could say it's a desperate disease that strikes not only the patients, but the entire family.

The new cancer center, with an absolutely grand design, important equipment, and outstanding staff is designed to be a lot more than the sum of its parts.

It's meant to be more of a service center to cancer patients than a hospital, according to members of its design committee. Dale Welsh, one of those members, recalls how cancer survivors - most notably Billie Middleton, a twice-cancer survivor, and the Rev. Caroline Dyson - became members of the committee at the outset.

Their experiences with the disease gave designers a look at what the cancer patient needs and wants, and how the medical facility could meet those needs in a compassionate way.

For example, there is the view from the infusion rooms.

Too many cancer victims must take their three-hour-plus treatments lying on a vinyl recliner staring at a blank wall or maybe thumbing through a two-year-old magazine.

In the new Sutter Solano center, they look through a wide glass window into landscaped gardens.

A small touch, but an important one.

The treatment is meant to be just as personal, Sutter Solano officials say.

"With the new center, highly skilled physicians will be cooperating in designing the best care options," promises Janice Hoss, the director of cancer services at Sutter Solano. "Having multiple specialists in one location is a major advantage."

So is getting a stuffed animal to squeeze when a patient is suffering the discomforts that come with the dreaded diagnosis. That's the kind of input that Middleton brought to the design table and that was embraced by those who sought to make a technologically dynamite hospital that felt like a medical spa.

So there are serenity rooms, not waiting rooms, while a patient must wait for a treatment or to see a doctor.

Then, once they get their treatment or meet their physician, there is the knowledge that the care being given and the equipment being used is among the best available.

Sutter Solano seems to have met its goals to make a superb cancer center that is patient-focused.

We congratulate them on completing this impressive, warm facility.

And the new stoplight at Tuolumne Street and Hospital Drive is yet another considerate touch.

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