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Posted by: News_Desk on 03/27/2017 10:53 AM Updated by: thepinetree on 03/29/2017 07:01 PM
Expires: 01/01/2022 12:00 AM

Local Patients Embrace Personal Touch At MTMC Cancer Center

San Andreas, CA...Compassionate care in a friendly, convenient setting draws an ever-increasing number of patients to the
Cancer Center at Mark Twain Medical Center in San Andreas. “We treat our patients like family,” says Center Director Dr. Shiva Singhal, MD, MPH. “We provide the same high quality care here close to home as you would expect to find in a large city – but we connect with patients and their families in a more personal way.”

Dr. Singhal, a board-certified Medical Oncologist/Hematologist, adds, “We have a wonderful team in a wonderful place. Everybody works as if they are meant to be here. Our staff does not just go ‘the extra mile’ to help patients – they go an extra ten miles.”

The Cancer Center, located adjacent to MTMC, opened in 2011 as a local resource for cancer patients in Calaveras and surrounding counties. Dr. Singhal joined the group three years ago. She notes, “Calaveras County offers the exact practice setting I was searching for because of my background in rural community health care.” She is a graduate of Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi, India, and did her residency in Internal Medicine at St. Joseph Hospital, University of Illinois in Chicago. While there, she worked for a year in rural areas of Illinois and Indiana and went on to become Chief
Fellow in Hematology/Oncology at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

She and her husband Anuj Singhal then moved to Seattle where he was associated with Microsoft and she worked in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Six months later he took a position with Ebay and the couple relocated to the Bay Area. Once they were settled in Millpitas she began looking for practice opportunities within a reasonable commute distance and that’s when a friend told her about the MTMC Cancer Center. The Singhals have two sons –
Aarkan, eight, and Cyrus, who is just three months old.

Dr. Singhal provides quality diagnosis and treatment services for cancer patients. She oversees a staff of six who treat an average of 250 to 300 patient visits a month. “We provide options,” she explains. “We outline treatment recommendations and encourage patients to seek another opinion if they wish. Once they check with large medical centers like Stanford, University of San Francisco or UC Davis they realize we offer the same chemotherapy treatments here. I would say 99 percent of them do decide to come to us.” She adds, “Driving long distances for treatment causes added stress when you are fighting this disease. Patients do better in a relaxed atmosphere close to home.”

The Cancer Center includes a Chemo Unit and an outpatient wing with two exam rooms where Dr. Singhal sees patients and where procedures like bone marrow biopsies and PICC line inserts take place. Elaine Airola, RN, assists with outpatient services and conducts individualized, detailed patient education sessions. Heather Bunch is the center’s Patient Access Representative and Tranette Lyons, LVN, also assists with patient services.

Elaine notes, “I’ve come full circle in my career. My first experience as a RN was 30 years ago in the Oncology Lab at the University of Washington.” Her nursing career has included positions in several local medical practices over the years.

The Chemo Unit is located on the other side of the facility, where veteran nurses Kathie Grover, RN, and Chris Stevenson, RN, administer their special brand of care. The unit also provides blood andantibiotic infusion and other blood-related treatments and is supported by Pharmacist Chihsing Chen,who is assigned to the center by MTMC.

The unit’s six chairs with infusion pumps are often filled to capacity and you can expect to see smiles and hear laughter as the dynamic nurses interact with their patients. “Lots of people flow through herein a day,” says Kathie. “And we try to always make it a good experience for them.” She has over 30years of nursing experience and worked at a Sonora facility before joining the Cancer Center when it opened. She explains, “We have all the latest technical advancements here, but we approach things differently than most chemo centers. We operate on a personal level to connect with patients and their

“This is a compassion-based practice,” Chris adds, “not an institutional experience. In a large-city setting you would most likely be known as the patient in Room102A. Not here! We get to know people because we see them often – and hopefully for a long time. We know you by name and usually we’ll become friends.”

Kathy explains, “Places like this are usually quiet as patients undergo chemo treatment. We take a different approach – keeping it lively and fun. That doesn’t diminish the serious reasons that bringthese folks to us. We just want to help occupy the time while they are here and give them something tolook forward to when they have to come back.”

Chris has been at the center for three years and is particularly noted for the sports-related games hecreates as a distraction for patients. His past experience includes assignments at Stanford University,Johns Hopkins, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and assignments at general hospitals. He first discovered Calaveras County when rotation as a travel nurse brought him to the area. “I loved it so much I stayed,”he says, “I have worked many places in my career and I am happier here than anywhere.”

Dr. Singhal is proud of her team’s collaboration with local resources to meets the needs of cancer patients. She explains, “We collaborate with local surgeons, nutritionists and social workers, and the Calaveras Cancer Support Group to address the many aspects of cancer treatment. And we reach out to facilities in surrounding areas to be sure the individualized treatment plans we devise include the best options possible for that person.”

The MTMC Cancer Center is located at 700 Mountain Ranch Road, Suite B, in San Andreas. Recently, it expanded its services from four to five days a week — now open Monday through Friday. For information call 209-754-9670.

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