Delaware, OH,
14:55 PM

Delaware Health Center Celebrates a Decade of Cancer Care

During her treatment for breast cancer, every minute mattered to Sharon Alles De Silva.

Even the simple things, like seeing her daughters board the school bus every morning, were important. With her cancer treatments just eight minutes from home, Alles De Silva was able to do that,  giving her a sense of comfort and normalcy.

Delaware Health Center - Sharon at End of Chemo TreatmentsAlles De Silva received her chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the OhioHealth Delaware Health Center, which is celebrating 10 years of providing infusion services and five years of radiation oncology. After considering other options, she chose the Delaware Health Center because of the staff’s respect for each patient’s time, and the care and concern she felt the minute she entered the facility.

“When you walk in, you don’t feel like you’re entering a treatment center. You feel like you’re going to see your friends. They make you feel welcome, and that makes a huge difference.” When she told them her wish for 8 a.m. appointments, “they made it happen,” she says. “They become your extended family.”

Dr. Cassandra Grenade, the cancer specialist who treated Alles De Silva at the Delaware Health Center, says, “Cancer itself takes up so much of a patient’s time. As much as possible, we like to give that time back.”

Prior to the opening of the OhioHealth Delaware Health Center a decade ago, patients had to travel to the system’s larger hospitals for chemotherapy and radiation oncology services. Making a long drive, finding parking and navigating a large facility can be stressful for patients, who already may not feel well, says Carla Knisley, director of clinical support services at Delaware.

“It’s much different here. Everything is very convenient, and it’s all identifiable,” Knisley says.

 “When patients come in, they’re greeted by the whole team. If they’ve been here more than once, they’re mostly likely greeted by name. It’s more like that family environment.”

Operations manager Tonya Upperman says, “Patients love it. They love feeling like they’re not just a number.”

OhioHealth Delaware Health Center aims to provide a personal touch from the outset. Rather than going through centralized scheduling, patients receive a call from a cancer care team member as soon as their physicians refer them, Knisley says.

Cancer services at the Delaware Health Center are all-encompassing and include chemoimmunotherapy infusion, radiation oncology,Delaware Health Center - Radiation Oncology Team social work support, nurse navigation and dietitian support. The Delaware Health Center is also home to several other specialties that make it easier for our cancer patients to receive care in one building, such as pain management, ENT, dermatology and sports medicine.

Dr. Grenade, who has worked at large medical centers, says, “I absolutely love working here. I can provide high-quality, comprehensive cancer care to patients in their own community. We are a hidden gem. What makes a difference is not just the location, it’s the people. We treat patients here like family. We cry with them, we celebrate with them, we grieve with them. We are very, very invested in our patients.”

The center has expanded its oncology programs in recent years and plans to add providers and services in the months ahead. Last year, the center began offering stereotactic radiosurgery, a focused treatment used to treat cancers that have spread to the brain. The treatment focuses radiation precisely at the tumor site, which spares nearby tissue and reduces side effects.

Alles De Silva, who was diagnosed last June, spent almost a year undergoing chemotherapy and radiation following surgery.  In addition to the more common side effects of nausea and  extreme fatigue, she also suffered from blood clots in her lungs, heart problems and neuropathy. “There were days when it was impossible to stay positive,” she admits, but her nurses gave her hope. “They played a huge, huge part. They were the rays of sunshine that I needed.”

She also appreciated the musician who came every Tuesday to play the guitar and sing familiar songs. “I actually looked forward to coming. It  was so soothing.”

Dr. Grenade says the Delaware Health Center will resume in-person patient support groups that had been suspended due to Covid-19 and plans other ancillary services. Patients celebrating treatment milestones or having birthdays will receive gift bags filled with special treats, courtesy of a financial gift from the family of a former patient. Says Knisley, “We want to celebrate those little wins throughout a patient’s journey.”