On March 9, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency and public health emergency in New Jersey. The next day brought the first COVID-19 death in the state, and six days later Inspira Health treated its first COVID-19 positive patients. And here we are, a year later. What a year it’s been for all of us.Read More
After undergoing a lumpectomy, Karen McGowan of Swedesboro faced questions that thousands of women face every year. Will I need chemo? Radiation? Some other treatment? And because it was March 2020, another question was on her mind. Would she be comfortable going to a hospital for treatment just as COVID-19 was arriving in South Jersey?
It was a legitimate concern, given the limited information that was available in early March. And Karen wasn't contemplating just one visit; she was deciding whether to begin six weeks of daily radiation therapy. She consulted with her radiation and medical oncologists, and took the time she needed to make her decision. When she arrived at the Leading-Edge Cancer Center at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill for her first treatment, she was immediately impressed, and reassured, by the safety measures that were in place.
"As soon as you walk in the door they give you a new mask. They take your temperature, ask you a series of questions…every single time, every single day. Then as I walked down to the Radiation Oncology Department there was a hand sanitizer dispenser; I just waved my hand under it. The doors were already open so I didn't have to touch them. And I was the only one in the waiting room."
She also discovered that she could leave the department and the building without touching anything. And with just a wave, she would sanitize her hands on the way out.
The pleasantness of her visits also made a lasting impression. From the daily greeting she received from Celia Ross at the front desk, to the warm blankets and personalized music selections that were provided during her treatments by radiation therapists Sam Lyons and Colleen Keeney, McGowan "always felt safe and taken care of." Even before her treatments began, Chrissy Hassler, R.N., M.S.N., would call weekly to ask how she was feeling.
"They are always on time, upbeat, and positive," said McGowan. “I have had an amazing experience, the most pleasant experience you could have."
McGowan was so taken by the kindness of the Radiation Oncology staff, she asked her doctor, David Lowther, M.D., whether everyone was being so nice just because they were new to their jobs at the recently-opened cancer center. He assured her that was not the case and that Inspira intentionally recruits and selects members for the oncology team that are beacons of positive energy and providers of hope, not just of quality care. He explained that it takes unique people to fulfill all of a patient’s physical and psychological needs in a successful oncology practice.
McGowan also found the convenience of a comprehensive one-stop cancer center to be of great benefit. For starters, both of her cancer specialists and all the support services she needed were available under one roof.
"You know what I love about the cancer center? They have a walk-in lab–it's so convenient.
And they have the pharmacy. And they have valet parking,” she said. “I just feel like the residents of the Gloucester County area are so fortunate to have it. I have been telling everyone how lucky we are to have the new hospital and cancer center.”