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UC Health Cancer Center Asked Survivors “How Can We Do Better?”

People gather on the balcony of the infusion sweet during the grand opening celebration.

One of the biggest goals of the new University of Colorado Health Cancer Center is to cut down on the number of appointments patients must go through, especially early in the process.

Upon first hearing that, one might wonder something like ‘Shouldn’t the goal of a cancer center be to treat cancer?’ Of course, and that is one of the many-fold goals that exist in the fabric of the soul of UC Health’s new facility and the people that comprise it.

However, they wanted to include other aspects into cancer care that maybe hadn’t existed before. They decided to take a whole patient approach, and think about how much stress wait times, travel between appointments, unsettling, lab-like surroundings and lack of understanding about the process can cause.

Yes, they demanded the most advanced technology, state of the art treatment, the best tools and the most capable people. That is the bedrock upon which these types of things are built. But UC Health wanted to advance cancer care, so they started asking questions that maybe hadn’t been asked before.

Through an advisory board made up of survivors, they tried to get to the bottom of what it is like to be treated for cancer. What were the most stressful parts? What could be changed?

It turns out that little tweaks to customer service and patient experience are going to make a huge difference.

Give patients a clue

Survivors said that not knowing what was happening, especially in the beginning, or what would happen to them or what to expect from the whole process, was very disturbing. So UC Health has put patient navigators with a local number for people to call (970-237-7700) into service. Patients can even be met by their patient navigator at the door, so the first time they walk into the facility, they can meet a familiar person.

Cut down on appointments and travel

You are busy right? Now, imagine that you’ve been diagnosed with a disease that could kill you, and you have to add 100 appointments for it this month.

There might not be anyone to pick up your kids, there might not be anyone to cover for you at work, and you have to make all the appointments, otherwise, you could die.

Wow. That’s brutal. That’s what UC Health reacted to, and is why cutting down on the number of appointments is such a big deal.

Further, without a place for the most advanced, state of the art treatments to live in Fort Collins, people had to travel, to Denver or further, to find them. Being able to stay in Fort Collins means being able to have a regular dinner with the family after difficult treatments.

Sunlit rooms, balconies, family rooms, social support and privacy

Celebrating the opening of the new Cancer Center with some bubbly in the beautiful infusion suite

Just because people have a disease and are taking treatment doesn’t mean the room needs to be depressing. In fact, it should be the opposite. Survivors asked for sunshiny windows and soothing colors, rather than lab white and flourescent bulbs. They wanted a better feel to infusion and treatment rooms, to help them deal with the difficult times they were facing. The new UC Health Cancer Center delivered.

Happier patients have better recovery rates

The power of optimism is becoming more and more widely understood. UC Health believes that if patients have less stress, they will have better recover rates. That is the crux of so many of these efforts. It’s the humanization of cancer care, and it couldn’t have happened to a better place than Fort Collins.

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