Susan Wheatlake shares joy for cancer center

REED CITY — Just weeks after opening its doors, cancer patients are receiving some of the best care available at the new Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center, located on Patterson Road near Reed City Hospital.

Construction is coming to a close at the $8.9 million site and Susan P. Wheatlake, a seven-year cancer survivor herself, traveled from Big Rapids to be one of the first patients. Wheatlake uses a surgically implanted port that can transfer treatment directly into the bloodstream, which saves her pain and time. She arrived at the regional cancer center for a routine flush of the port, positive and hopeful about the new building and what it can provide for people in the local area.

“To even be here today is special. A little over one year ago I never dreamed that I’d be walking through the regional cancer center for treatment,” Wheatlake said.

The center includes a 9,000 square-foot addition off the current Crossroads Radiation Therapy Center as well as a redesign of the existing building.

New state-of-the-art technology has replaced existing technology and all phases of cancer diagnosis and treatment have been brought together under one roof.

Wheatlake helped with the design, as she understood the needs and desires a cancer patient may have. In the plan, she opted for the best and easiest approach to pass along information and allow for growth while making sure it met the needs of patients and provided a comfortable, serene atmosphere.

”There is a new emphasis on helping patients through treatment, helping them on an emotional and physical level,” she added.

The calm, relaxing infusion and chemotherapy area can care for 15 patients at one time and is overlooked by nurses’ stations. Patients have the ability to view the outdoors while receiving treatment, stream wireless Internet to their electronic devices or watch television. Private rooms for patients are available as well.

Amanda Cohoon, clinical supervisor at the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center, said the comforts have been well received. On average, between 25 and 40 patients are served in the infusion area each day.

”Here, it’s larger and more open. It’s a big plus for patients,” Cohoon said, noting new safety processes and built-in safety features in the center are also beneficial.

Apart from infusion and radiation treatment services, the wellness center provides a variety of services, including an area for massage therapy and acupuncture, a wig shop and beauty parlor, multiple waiting rooms to enhance patient privacy and a library of cancer resources and guide books.

The center has turned out to be more than Wheatlake expected and she said she loves every aspect. She hopes the patients will, too.

”My goal is that they receive the best care they can receive, have the most enjoyable experience under the circumstances in the most caring setting that’s available and that when they refer back to their cancer journey, they know they received the best care possible in every area,” Wheatlake said.

So far so good, as patients have been giving positive feedback about the center and its professional, compassionate staff.

”I’m so proud of the people that work here and the people I’ve come to know,” she said.

Although many features make up the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center, she said she cannot choose one as her favorite part. It’s the entire story that makes it special, she said.

”It’s a beautiful, prime location for the wellness center,” Wheatlake added. “With the facility, its offerings and the connections through Spectrum Health to the expertise of the doctors, I think this center will be a flagship for the region.”