Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center building for the future | Ascension

Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center building for the future


With the renovation of its outpatient cancer center in Pittsburg complete, Ascension Via Christi Hospital's clinical leaders are working with their Ascension Kansas colleagues to establish a more integrated advanced cancer care network.

Toward that goal, oncology nurses from the Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center in Wichita, all with experience in advanced cancer care and clinical research, are working alongside the Cancer Center team in Pittsburg, providing hands-on care as well as helping them expand their knowledge.

"We have made a significant investment in our cancer center, ensuring that members of our community can receive a wide range of treatments close to home and family," says Charlotte Russell, the cancer center's director of operations. "However, patients with advanced stages of cancer may require highly specialized treatment and technology not available in our region, such as cellular therapy and the CyberKnife and Radixact radiation therapy systems.

"It's important that our team become familiar with leading-edge treatments such as CAR T-cell therapy and stem cell transplant, as these patients will need specialized care once they return home to our community," says Russell, noting that Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita is home to Kansas' only CyberKnife Center and is certified by Aetna as a CAR-T Center of Excellence.

The nurses doing rotations in Pittsburg, who collectively have 59 years of experience in advanced cancer care, include:

  • Missy Grier, APRN, who supports Ascension Via Christi St. Francis' CAR T-cell and stem cell transplant program; Grier is board certified as a clinical nurse specialist. She also is an advanced oncology-certified nurse with 14 years experience in cancer care;
  • Tari Hopper, RN, who supports Ascension Via Christi's FACT-accredited bone marrow transplant program; Hopper is an oncology-certified nurse with 10 years experience in cancer care; and,
  • Lori Hurst, RN, a nurse navigator who coordinates the Wichita cancer center's lung screening program; Hurst is certified in chemotherapy administration and has 35 years experience in cancer care.
  • Suzy Ramsey, RN, a radiation oncology nurse who joined the team in December, says she appreciates her Wichita teammates' willingness to lend a hand and discuss ways to incorporate the best practices of both programs. "They've been wonderful," says Ramsey, who has served as a nurse at Ascension Via Christi for the past 11 years.

Ally Pinkley, RN, who has served at Ascension Via Christi for nine years and was recently named as the Cancer Center's nurse manager, agrees that working together has been a blessing.

"I enjoy learning," says Pinkley, who prior to her promotion served as a nursing coordinator for Ascension Medical Group Via Christi's physician practices. "As we build for the future, it is helpful to have the benefit of their knowledge and expertise and a fresh perspective. Working together, our program already feels so much stronger."

In January, the hospital added medical oncologists James Moore, MD, and Michael Cannon, MD, to its medical staff. Drs. Moore and Cannon, both with Wichita-based Cancer Center of Kansas, join medical oncologist Mickey Xun, MD, with Ascension Medical Group Via Christi, and radiation oncologist Duane Myers, MD, with Radiation Oncology Associates, in ensuring southeast Kansas residents' ready access to comprehensive cancer care.

"Additionally, as part of Ascension, the national ministry that our founding congregation helped establish, we also are collaborating with oncology programs and specialists throughout our system to discern best practices in the evolving world of cancer care," says Russell. "This allows us to leverage their collective knowledge and experience to benefit our patients and families in Crawford and Bourbon counties and the surrounding area."

Pittsburg's cancer center opened 26 years ago, funded entirely by donations to the Mount Carmel Foundation's "Legacy of Hope" campaign. The $1 million renovation also was funded entirely by community donations, this time to the "Legacy of Hope II" campaign led by Johnna Norton, the foundation's executive director. Through the community's generosity, the chemotherapy area now has seven private treatment suites and the entire cancer center was updated to create a brighter and more welcoming environment. The patient and family resource room was also refurbished, providing a comfortable space for the patient and family education, nutritional counseling and spiritual and emotional support services.

Additionally, Ascension Via Christi Hospital spent $1.5 million to acquire a new state-of-the-art TrueBeam linear accelerator, allowing patients to receive highly precise radiation therapy in a shorter period of time.

"Our founding sisters came to Pittsburg to offer compassionate care and healing, with a special focus on the vulnerable," says Drew Talbott, the hospital's president. "Our commitment in ensuring our community's access to high-quality, comprehensive cancer care is in keeping with their Mission, which continues to serve as the foundation of all that we do."

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