Designed with your needs in mind, the Infusion Center at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is a calming environment that inspires relaxation. If chemotherapy is part of your cancer treatment plan, you will receive your treatments in the Infusion Center at our hospital. Our staff and nurses assist with your care and help make you as comfortable as possible.
Infusion Center services
The Infusion Center provides services including:
- Pre-medications (e.g., anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, diphendydramine, antiemetics)
- Chemotherapy medications
- General IV fluids
- Blood products
- Total parenteral nutrition (TPN)
- Pain medication
When you arrive at the Infusion Center for your first chemotherapy treatment, you’ll check in and an infusion nurse will give you a brief tour and bring you to an infusion bay. Our team will work to make you as comfortable as possible:
- Private chairs with your own television and chair for a caregiver are available.
- Rooms are sometimes available if you seek more privacy or need to rest during treatment.
- A patient care technician will take your vital signs and offer you a heated blanket, drinks or snack, and get you comfortable. You can also order meals through the hospital's Café that will be brought to your chairside.
- You can also access additional integrative services while in the Infusion Center. For instance, you may decide you would like to see your naturopathic oncology provider, dietitian or spiritual counselor. Scheduling appointments in the Infusion Center is a good way to use your time and may help you relax during treatment.
How is chemotherapy administered?
If you are receiving intravenous chemotherapy, the length of the infusion will depend on your specific treatment regimen, including the type and amount of drugs you are receiving. Your nurse will be able to relay that information to you during your first treatment. If your regimen changes, the timeframe may change as well.
An infusion nurse will do a short assessment upon your arrival. Depending on what your medical oncologist has prescribed, you will receive pre-medications to prevent reactions and help reduce side effects. After the pre-medications, your nurse will begin administering your chemotherapy.
If you need IV fluids or nutrition, this can be accomplished in the Infusion Center as well. IV fluids may last between four to eight hours. If nutritional fluids are initiated, including total parenteral nutrition (TPN), it is usually placed on a portable pump while at the center, then home health care is arranged for discharge to home.
Speed of care and safety protocols
Before each visit to the Infusion Center, you will have lab work done to make sure your blood counts are within an acceptable range to receive chemotherapy. With the hospital’s electronic health records (EHR) system, lab results are automatically delivered to the Infusion Center in real time.
The chemotherapy is prepared by the Infusion Center Pharmacy, which helps improve turnaround times for our patients. The Infusion Center abides by the Oncology Nursing Society guidelines for administering chemotherapy. Every nurse on the team has had appropriate training in handling chemotherapy agents. Your nurses will double check your arm band, your oncologist’s chemotherapy orders and any other important aspects of your care.
The Infusion Center at Southwestern is located on the second floor of the hospital, and infusion services are offered from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Patients’ chemotherapy treatments are scheduled, but you have the option to provide your schedulers with your preference for administration time. All efforts will be made to accommodate your requested time with each visit.
For many patients, this flexibility allows them to work a full-time job and come in for chemo whenever it coordinates best with their schedule. Some people, for instance, may work four-day weeks and come in on Friday or Monday for their treatment. They’ll follow this cycle for the number of weeks of their treatment (the average seems to be two to six weeks).