Community at the Heart

You built this center

Community is at the heart of cancer collaboration

By Chris Laman, Director of Pharmacy and Cancer Care

cancer care center

Rendering of the CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative in Astoria, Oregon.

Crafting the new CMHO-HSU Knight Cancer Collaborative has been a true community effort.

In the past 18 months that I have been overseeing this project, I have been touched by the commitment and enthusiasm I see for the new cancer center. With the input of many, many people, we have created a place of healing for the body, mind and spirit.

Listening to your feedback

To get us started, CMH caregivers traveled to five other cancer centers. We talked to patients and staff there to learn what they liked and didn’t like about those facilities.

We learned that most patients preferred to get infusion therapy in a more open setting where they could chat with others and feel the support of a community. So we’ve created “pods” of infusion chairs, along with two private infusion rooms for patients who need or prefer more privacy.

Once we had initial plans of the building, I met with groups of people throughout the community. I put the plans up on the wall and let the group rip them apart. The feedback we got was invaluable.

As a result, we have moved windows and elevators, changed cabinetry, added storage, and accommodated simple—but easily overlooked—needs, such as a place for volunteers to store personal items in the new Resource Center.

Then we set up chairs and temporary walls to allow patients, family members and caregivers to test-drive the space. Patients asked, “Where do I put my coat? Where do I put my purse?” Again, this revealed an opportunity for improvement.

Hearing from the experts

Our nurses pointed out that putting electrical outlets in the floor meant getting down on their knees every time they had to move a piece of equipment. So instead we put the outlets on the wall—higher than normal for ease of use.

We also asked design experts at the Planetree organization to review our plans. One thing they noted was that we didn’t have an easy way for someone at the front desk to reach the front door or elevator to help a patient in need, so we added a flip-up counter for quick access. They also encouraged us to put a window at the end of each hallway to make the walk more pleasant.

Designing the new Cancer Collaborative has truly been a community effort.

Read the Summer 2017 CMH Health Compass.