PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — At The Aroostook Medical Center, the ease and comfort of patients who undergo infusion therapy to treat serious illnesses are a priority for hospital staff.
In the past, however, scheduling and patient registration were not always consistent. Now, TAMC has created a room specifically designed for patients who need infusion therapy while also improving the administrative process.
Infusion therapy is used when medications that alleviate pain or treat illnesses, such as cancer, gastrointestinal diseases and rheumatoid arthritis, need to be delivered directly into the veins. Medication infused directly into the body can be more effective than oral medications. Hospital officials said high-powered antibiotics are the most common medication delivered by infusion.
Irene Bouchard, manager of the women and children’s units at TAMC, said the hospital has routinely provided infusion therapy, but patients were receiving therapy in different departments and in different rooms at the hospital.
“These medications are an essential part of treatment for an increasing number of patients,” said Bouchard. “Many people who require this service are dealing with significant discomfort. Our goal is to make it as easy and convenient as possible for our patients to access the service.”
On average, two to four patients are treated in the new room on the one to two days a week it’s in use, according to TAMC.
Hospital staff began considering how they could best serve patients, and that brainstorming led to the creation of a new infusion therapy room, Bouchard said. The room is located on the second floor in the women and children’s unit and features two large, comfortable leather chairs, a television and a bathroom.
“Since treatment can take an hour or more, we wanted to make the room cheerful and inviting,” said Bouchard. “The room has a long window, which allows patient to enjoy the afternoon sun. Tasteful decorations, including pictures depicting rural life, really bring the room together.”
Most medication infusions can be done in the room, but due to the complex nature of the treatment, infusions for cancer survivors and some other patients are provided at Aroostook Cancer Care or in other hospital departments.
Hospital officials added that the process of scheduling and administering infusion therapy is now easier than it has ever been. A patient’s primary care provider schedules the therapy and provides the patient with instructions on how to get to the infusion therapy room. After the patient arrives at the room, nurses on the women and children’s unit help the patient get settled, begin the infusion and regularly check in with the patient until all of the medication is given.
Bouchard said she is proud of the improvements and she continues to work with hospital staff to evaluate the registration process and therapy room. She said feedback from patients has been positive.
“Our patients really like the changes,” she said. “Our team is committed to providing the best service that we can, and this includes collecting patient feedback and making the service even better in the future.”