Infusion Center: Experience
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What happens when you arrive at the Infusion Center?
Prior to visiting the Infusion Center, you’ll have a consultation with a medical oncologist in the Outpatient Clinic on the first floor of the hospital. During this meeting, you and your oncologist will decide on a treatment plan that best meets your needs.
When you arrive at the Infusion Center for your first chemotherapy treatment, you’ll sign in and an infusion nurse will give you a brief tour and bring you to a chair. The Infusion Center currently houses 15 chairs, two of which are in private rooms. With renovation plans under way, the Infusion Center will soon have a total of 26 chairs, three of which will be in private rooms.
Once you are seated, a patient care technician will offer you a heated blanket, bring you something to drink, and provide you with a menu so you (and your caregiver/family member) can order food. The patient care technician’s goal is to make you feel as comfortable as possible. They will be there to talk with you if you want to talk, and to tend to all of your needs during your visit.
Next, an infusion nurse will visit with you. Your nurse will do a short assessment and take your vital signs. Then, your nurse will access your port (if you have one), or start a peripheral IV, and administer your pre-medications. Depending on what your medical oncologist has prescribed, you will receive pre-medications to prevent reactions and help reduce side effects. Most pre-medications take about 30 minutes, after which your nurse will begin administering your chemotherapy.
What happens during your visit to the Infusion Center?
Each time you come for an appointment in the Infusion Center, you can choose where you want to sit. You may want to sit in the front facing the golf course so you can socialize with others. If want a little more privacy, you may decide to sit at one of the cubicles, or in a private room.
If you are receiving intravenous chemotherapy, the length of the infusion will depend on your specific treatment regime, including the type and amount of drugs you are receiving. While it can take up to six hours, an average chemotherapy infusion lasts for about 30 minutes.
If you need total parenteral nutrition (TPN), or IV nutrition, this type of infusion generally lasts longer (up to 10 to 12 hours). However, you may be able to begin the initial nutrient infusion at the Infusion Center and then complete it at home.
You will generally receive enteral nutrition, or tube feeding, through a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube, which is a tube placed in the stomach. You may also receive enteral nutrition at home. Your CTCA care manager and dietitian will arrange your home infusions with an outside home care nurse.
During your visit to the Infusion Center, you can choose what you want to do. At each chair, there is a television monitor and a phone, which you can use to call anyone within the hospital. You can also talk with friends, read, or take a nap.
Plus, you can access all the complementary medicine services while in the Infusion Center. For instance, you may decide you would like to see a naturopathic clinician, dietitian, or spiritual counselor. Your ability to access these resources in the Infusion Center is a good way to make use of your time and help you relax during treatment.