Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Foundation Progress

Merry Christmas--that is important for me to say. I believe Jeff would never want us to experience anything less. I see him every morning leaving the house at dawn to go Christmas shopping before work and before the crowds. It was his favorite thing to do--even last year when he was sick. Jeff loved Christmas. I feel his presence so much. Especially when I put up all the Christmas decorations. It was like he was right there saying, " now plug that one in there and stake the inflatable with extra stakes because the wind will take it out--now don't put everything into one socket or you'll blow fuses again!" Jeff's outdoor Christmas display was famous! He loved to put up as much as our electrical system would allow. Many nights I would try to use the treadmill only to find out that the Christmas lights could not in any way be unplugged for the use of the treadmill, as that would just be crazy--the lights had to stay on no matter what! The use of the treadmill AND the lights just resulted in a total blackout--so needless to say, December was declared a work-out free zone. Sometimes I would think to myself that people are going to mistake us for the parking lot for the floats from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We had more inflatables than the kiddie pool. I tried to live up to that as well as I could this year for the girls' sake and for Jeff.

I have also been looking for ways the foundation can help cancer patients and their families. There have been some opportunities to reach out and help with travel expenses for a couple of local families. I just feel a huge need to pay forward all of the support and kindness we received. In addition to trying to get the clinics to become a reality, I feel we need to make sure everyday life is bearable for cancer patients and their families. Travel can become a huge obstacle. We really need to work on making the Angel Network more accessible in the Ozarks. There are too many private jets just sitting on the runway out at the airport. We were blessed with a private flight once in all of our travels to Houston. I can't tell you what a remarkable difference that made in Jeff's life. He was safe, he was warm, we were certain to reach our destination and he was able to have his little girls with him. Stress levels play a huge role in how successful a cancer patient is in his or her treatments. Sometimes Jeff's stress was through the roof when we had to deal with uncaring and uncooperative airlines. There were a few times he was bumped because he had paid a slightly lower "compassionate" fare and a passenger who had paid full fare took precedence. Nice.

There is much to be done for those dealing with cancer. We have to help. It is not a question of whether or not to help, but how. There is so much to be done--clinics, equipment, research and data bases, help with travel and lodging--the list goes on. Please join us and help. Officially the title of the foundation is the Jeffrey A. Melton Urgent Care Cancer Foundation. For me I call it Jeff's Hope. If you can help please send your donations to the Jeffrey A. Melton Urgent Care Cancer Foundation c/o the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, 425 E Trafficway, Springfield, Missouri 65806. Messages left on this blog will reach me or email at jeffshope2008@gmail.com.

There are plans for fundraisers in 2009. We've got to do this. The goals of this foundation are not cancer specific. Cancer doesn't care if it is in the lungs or breast or skin or brain--it just hits and hits hard. We have to help--it is our responsibility to help--how can we look the other way--how can we not help?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

24/7 Clinic Opening at Siteman Clinic at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis

I wanted to get this posted to the blog. I haven't had permission from anyone to reprint this and for that I ask forgiveness. I am so excited about this clinic. There is a huge possibility that a group of us from the Jeffrey A. Melton Urgent Care Cancer Foundation will be going to perform a site visit in the spring. The target date for the clinic to open is March of 2009. Come on Springfield--let's do this! I would prefer for all cancer patients to be seen, regardless of where they are a patient. For example, when Jeff was home from MD Anderson, he needed help here locally, too, for urgent care situations. Please read-on...

Siteman to Open 24/7 Clinic for Patients Needing Urgent Care

Contact:Jason Merrill314-286-0302
Read aSt. Louis Post-Dispatch story on this subject.
Sept. 24, 2008 – Going to the emergency room can be stressful enough, but for cancer patients, an emergency-room visit takes on a different meaning.

For instance, cancer patients with lowered immune systems may wait in emergency-room lobbies near patients with infectious diseases such as the flu. In addition, given the complex nature of many cancer regimens and clinical trials, some emergency-room staffers may be treating patients who are taking medications they’ve never heard of.

To provide around-the-clock service for cancer patients in need of urgent care, the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine will open a 24/7 Cancer Care Clinic inside the hospital's north campus. The clinic is scheduled to open in March.

“We’re trying to get oncology patients out of the emergency room because for cancer patients, being around sick people for eight hours can be deadly,” says registered nurse Amy Determann, manager of the 24/7 Cancer Care Clinic. “It’s a paradigm shift in care.”

The need for a 24/7 clinic was identified from records showing a number of Siteman patients in need of urgent care on a daily basis. For example, in 2006:

A total of 1,438 visits to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital emergency department among Siteman bone-marrow transplant patients and patients being treated by a Siteman medical oncologist resulted in a hospital admission (approximately four Siteman patients per day).

An average of five Siteman patients per day were either inside Barnes-Jewish or at other hospitals waiting for an inpatient bed.

An estimated 20 Siteman patients each week arrived at the Barnes-Jewish emergency department and were treated and released.

An estimated 15 Siteman patients were directed to local community hospital emergency rooms weekly.

Those cancer patients, who most often need fluids or infusion, can now be treated in the 24/7 center in an outpatient setting rather than a lengthy emergency-room visit or an admission to an area hospital. Nurse practitioners familiar with cancer treatments and Siteman’s clinical trials will work with Washington University hospitalists in staffing the clinic.

Barnes-Jewish is spending $994,000 to build the clinic, which will be comprised of seven infusion chairs, three private treatment rooms and one negative-pressure room. Siteman’s bone-marrow transplant weekend clinic will also relocate to the 24/7 clinic.

The clinic is not available to cancer patients seen by non-Siteman physicians. “Those patients may be on treatment regimens we are unfamiliar with, and it’s important for those patients to work with their oncologist if they need urgent care,” says Determann, who adds that the clinic is not a general emergency room but rather for Siteman patients with symptoms related to cancer. She says those with acute problems like heart attack or stroke need to visit an emergency room.