CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The grand opening of the Queen's Cancer Center at the Queen's Medical Center was held yesterday. Diane Thompson, left, Cancer Center director; Dr. Clayton Chong, head of the oncology department; and Darlena Chadwick, vice president of patient care, showed the new reception area.
Cancer facility offers comprehensive care
As the parent of a child who had cancer and leader of a planning group, Darlena Chadwick was determined to create an "elite cancer treatment facility" at the Queen's Medical Center.
Chadwick, vice president of patient care at Queen's, said her 21-year-old daughter, Tabatha, a University of Hawaii senior, was diagnosed with leukemia before she was 5.
Comprehensive services were lacking, and she could have used psychiatric counseling for depression, she said.
"As a parent I was a mess, and I had to care for my daughter and be strong," she said.
She encountered "a lot of gaps and confusion" and decided after the ordeal "we needed to fix it."
That has been done with the $6 million Queen's Cancer Center, blessed in a ceremony yesterday.
Survivors and health professionals on a Blue Ribbon Panel on Cancer Care convened by former Gov. Ben Cayetano in 1999 recommended a comprehensive cancer care facility.
"They gave us feedback on what we need to do to improve care, and our staff heard," said Art Ushijima, president and chief executive officer of the Queen's Health Systems and president of the medical center.
He said the state-of-the-art Cancer Center continues the mission and commitment to the people of Hawaii by the hospital's founders, Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV.
Chadwick partnered with Dr. Diane Thompson, director of Queen's Cancer Center Program, and other doctors, staff, patients and community groups in developing the facility.
It represents a $150 million investment, including some of the most advanced technology for diagnosis and treatment, Chadwick said.
Major donors were the Queen's boards of trustees, employees, the Jhamandas Watumull Fund, Clear Channel Communications Inc. and Dick Pacific Construction Co. Ltd.
Thompson said the reaction of the first cancer patients who saw the center was, "Wow, this is nice."
She calls it a "high-tech, high-touch" facility because it combines new equipment with physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological services, financial counseling, massage therapy and healing touch.
Chadwick said the Queen's team "listened to the smallest detail" suggested by patients for improved care. For example, they did not want to hear television news in the waiting area, so the television shows art and information about support groups and activities.
All services are centralized under one roof so patients do not have to run all over the hospital or town to find what they need.
"Navigators" are available at Queen's and in the community to coordinate treatments, transportation, housing and other services needed by patients and family members.
Dr. Clayton Chong, Queen's chief of oncology, said a lack of coordinated treatments and services has been a huge problem.
Gov. Linda Lingle, speaking at the ceremony, said she visited Queen's last November to learn about the vision for the center. "I had no way to know what the vision actually would be when completed."
She added, "It is not just a step forward. It's a leap forward for patients and families."
"I love the place," said Jackie Young, American Cancer Society official and breast cancer survivor. Referring to the saying "A rising tide lifts all ships," she said the Cancer Center "lifts the perception of cancer care in Hawaii."
CENTER BOASTS HIGH-TECH EQUIPMENT
Advanced technology at the Queen's Cancer Center includes:
» Hawaii's only clinical genetics laboratory.
» A TomoTherapy device, one of only 150 existing, that focuses radiation directly on the cancer. It is considered the world's most advanced radiation treatment system.
» A da Vinci robotic system for minimally invasive surgery.
» Positron emission tomography (PET) combined with computed tomography (CT) to create an image with more complete information on the size and location of the cancer.
» Two 64-slice CTs that provide detailed pictures of any organ in a few seconds with sharp three-dimensional images, including views of blood vessels.
» New magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment.