A few weeks ago, cancer care made some major advances right here in Kenosha County, close to home.

In August, a significantly larger and totally renovated Cancer Center opened its doors at Froedtert South Pleasant Prairie Hospital.

Three key players on our cancer care team reflect on how the dramatically expanded and modernized Cancer Center is making it possible for more people in our communities – our friends, families, and neighbors – to get faster and more effective help fighting their cancer in an environment that promotes healing.

Brian Portilia, Director of Cancer Services at Froedtert South

Brian Portilia, Director of Cancer Services at Froedtert South

Brian Portilia: Director of Cancer Services, Froedtert South

Our goal was to remodel and rejuvenate the Cancer Center, as well as bring our cancer care services under one roof to enhance the experience of patients. We also wanted to better enable our staff to be as successful at providing cancer care as they can be. All that came together into one vision for the new Cancer Center.

It certainly further demonstrates our long-standing and ongoing commitment to prioritize cancer care for people in the communities we serve in Kenosha County and beyond – in Racine, Milwaukee, and northern Illinois.

In contrast to other hospitals and clinics where multi-use areas are the norm, our new Cancer Center provides dedicated spaces for patients and for specific uses. That includes, for example, designated consultation rooms specially designed to facilitate meetings with patients, their families, health care providers, and others involved in those critical discussions. We also have dedicated rooms designed to provide expanded education resources to patients, to make sure that in addition to our outstanding cancer care team and leading-edge technologies, patients also have easy access to the learning resources they want or need.

Patient check-in and check-out procedures have been streamlined to minimize wait times and maximize the speed with which we can get patients to where they need to be. That reflects our commitment to make cancer care at Froedtert South as convenient as we can for patients.

We’ve also brought as many of the cancer services we provide – physicians, radiation therapy, chemotherapy infusion, and others – together in the Cancer Center to create a one-stop healing environment.

There’s a combination of private and semi-private areas, as well as communal areas, that provide a good mix of experiences for patients. Part of healing is being in an environment that's conducive to the phase of a cancer patient’s journey. It’s not the same for every patient, so the space adapts to that.

Being advocates for patients has always been first-and-foremost at Froedtert South. We want our cancer patients to feel most comfortable and confident in their providers, in their approaches to cancer, and the treatments and techniques they offer – which certainly mirror those offered at other hospital systems to the north and south of us. Plus, our partnership with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee enables us to streamline access to even more specialized expertise when the need arises and it's in the patient’s best interests.

We want patients to be equal partners in their health care journey – and that's one of the best things that our new Cancer Center allows. It’s always been our goal to help cancer patients have long-term success. Patients in different chapters of their cancer journey may need different services at different times – and there's so much that we can do here, close to home, for those long-term patients. Whether their needs are for routine imaging, blood work, or maintenance or supportive care, we are here to help.

David Knight, M.D., Ph.D., Hematologist/Oncologist at Froedtert South

David Knight, M.D., Ph.D., Hematologist/Oncologist at Froedtert South

David Knight, M.D., Ph.D. Hematologist/Oncologist, Froedtert South

The new Cancer Center is amazing. It is a reflection of our continued commitment to the highest level of care which has resulted in our dramatic growth in the last few years – growth that required that we build this new Cancer Center.

Patients love the new center. It has a lot more space. They like the convenience and comfort. It’s very patient-friendly, and the layout enables ease of access to and from the various services: chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and other supportive services such as social work, nutrition, everything.

The new Cancer Center gives us a greater degree of flexibility and efficiency. The redesigned infusion center, where patients receive chemotherapy treatments, is close by. There are also more rooms in the chemotherapy area, to provide more privacy and less waiting. The new center also makes is easier for our whole team to coordinate patient care. We’re all strategically placed by function, with the patient exam rooms and care areas all very close by.

When people are in need of cancer care, we work hard to overcome any barriers that might prevent them from getting immediate attention. That means trying to bring them in and see them as quickly as possible. We try to function as much like a walk-in clinic as possible. If people are sick, we bring them in right away. We manage them right here in the clinic and prevent them from having to go to the emergency department, if at all possible.

We are constantly contacted by new patients who need and want to be seen as rapidly as possible. They have new symptoms, or new test results, or have been experiencing pain for some time. Their physician refers them to us, or they contact us directly, and we strive hard to bring them right in and see them in the next couple days. That’s how our entire cancer team approaches patient care – and our new Cancer Center is helping us maintain that high level of care.

Kevin Khater, M.D., Ph.D., Radiation Oncologist at Froedtert South

Kevin Khater, M.D., Ph.D., Radiation Oncologist at Froedtert South

Kevin Khater, M.D., Ph.D. Radiation Oncologist, Froedtert South

Patients are juggling a lot of things when they're diagnosed with cancer. Being in a peaceful environment while they’re trying to cope with what’s happening lets them focus on their well-being - not on worrying about how far their walk from the parking lot is, or that they’ll get lost in a maze. They're able to focus on themselves.

Patients love the peacefulness in the new Cancer Center. They appreciate everything being in one place, so they don’t have to walk long distances. If a patient wants to be alone in private, there are places to do that. If they want to be with other patients – people going through the same thing they are – there are places for that, too.

Full windows make for a much brighter and more cheerful atmosphere for all our patients, whether they're getting chemotherapy or they’re consulting with a physician like me. Having everything under one roof makes it easier for patients to get their chemotherapy and radiation treatments. When a patient undergoing treatment in the Cancer Center needs to be admitted to the hospital, we don’t have to interrupt their treatment to do that.

The collaboration of our cancer caregivers is enhanced by holding all our tumor board conferences – the regular meetings where we bring doctors and specialists from different disciplines together to develop the best treatment plan for each patient – right in the Cancer Center now.

Our new linear accelerator delivers radiation faster. That means treatments that used to take twenty minutes or more to deliver are now completed in five to ten minutes. That’s not just more convenient for patients; it also helps us deliver radiation more accurately to a tumor, while sparing more of the tissue around it.

Our number one priority is what’s best for each patient – to give each patient the very best care. Most of the time, we can do that right here, close to home. But in special cases, where our colleagues at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee are the best option, patients can rest assured that we’re going to coordinate that for them.

Cancer by the numbers

According to the American Cancer Society:

  • More than 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the US in 2023
  • Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, approximately 42% of those new cancers – or about 820,000 cases in 2023 – could have been avoided
  • That includes 19% of cancers caused by smoking, and at least 18% of cancers caused by excess body weight, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity
  • More than 18 million Americans who have had invasive cancer were still alive on New Years Day 2022
  • Most of these people were diagnosed with cancer many years ago, but have no current evidence of the disease
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