Spectrum moves Big Rapids cancer wellness center to Reed City

REED CITY — Local cancer patients receiving treatment and care will have the convenience of "one stop shopping," as Wheatlake Cancer and Wellness Center located at Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital is moving to the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center in Reed City.

"It's the best for our community," said Susan P. Wheatlake. "It's so convenient now for the patient. It's just day and night."

The move is necessary due to the declining number of people who visit and use the Wellness Center at the Big Rapids location. It is also a practical decision based on staffing and location of the patients at the cancer center in need of the service. In addition, the mission established for the Big Rapids center is already administered at the Reed City Wellness Center more effectively, according to Wheatlake.

"When the facility opened up in Reed City, it drew away the traffic of people here in Big Rapids," Wheatlake added. "We have a lovely place here, but wouldn't you rather go up to Reed City where everything is included already? If they're up there finding treatment they also can find help with the emotional and mental part of wellness.

"It just wasn't viable to have staff down here. We didn't have the traffic. Everything they needed was up in Reed City and the Reed City team is treating more people than we ever thought. They're serving people from at least 11 counties."

She said clients in Big Rapids should not feel the change means a loss, but look at both hospitals, as one entity, are trying to provide the best care in one central location. Especially when the next closest form of care on the same scale is located in Grand Rapids.

"We've got everything up there and more," Wheatlake said. "I'm not at all disappointed. We can offer so much more now."

While the resources will be moved to Reed City, a presence still will be maintained in the Big Rapids location by presenting free cancer booklets and information, including a description of the Reed City Wellness Center and its resources, phone number, map and more.

Meanwhile, the former wellness center will be utilized to provide educational opportunities for diabetes education and programming, with the possibility for other health topics. Free pamphlets and other information will be available as well. Wheatlake considers the move an opportunity for expansion concerning other health issues. Discussions on the center's potential are ongoing, she added.

"Why can't we reinvent a space? I'm excited to see what changes we can make and how we can improve," Wheatlake said. "We can be phenomenal up there for the people in the region and we have money behind it now to support these programs."