When Janet Wolter, MD, began practicing medicine at Rush 46 years ago, the staff consisted of only three doctors and one nurse. Now, the Rush University Cancer Center’s just-opened outpatient cancer center has a team of more than 100 doctors, nurses and other caregivers providing cancer care in one centralized location. Rush’s Jody Lempa talked about the new cancer center with Wolter, who retired as Brian Piccolo Chair of Cancer Research in 2009.
Q: How do you think the new outpatient cancer center will affect care for patients?
A: The center is obviously a very beautiful environment. This alone will change everyone’s attitude dramatically. In the really old days, we each had an office that was 10 feet by 10 feet. We mixed our own drugs and medicine in the hallways, administered the chemotherapy ourselves and provided every aspect of care to the patients. It is evident that a lot has changed in 40 years.
Q: There’s a conference room named after you in the cancer center. How do you feel about that honor?
A: Well, it means a lot. The conference room is a wonderful place with all of the bells and whistles for looking at images and giving lectures. Aesthetically, it is very bright and inviting, which will hopefully reflect on everyone’s moods. I wanted a place that would provide a suitable location for Grand Rounds, and this state-of-the-art conference room is equipped to provide for greater learning opportunities.
Q: What are you most excited about for the new cancer center?
A: I am most excited about the new conference center. Now we have first-rate facilities to work in. … The patient rooms are going to be comfortable for both patients and caregivers. The waiting room was designed to be uplifting and functional -– there are personal computers so patients can look up information about medication or a specific disease as they wait. And the flow of the center allows patients to check in, get their vitals taken while waiting, and then be seen by their doctor sooner. This is a dramatic process improvement that will hopefully make the patients’ treatment less stressful as well.
Q: How do you think the new technology and accommodations will change the way medicine is practiced?
A: While the amenities are a nice bonus, they will not change how medicine is practiced -– that has undoubtedly come through research and hard work. Rush is lucky to have this space and I must say we are grateful to our donors and patients who provided the funds for this area that is so well thought-out and designed, it is like nothing we have ever had before.