Cancer treatment for patients in rural southern Colorado is minutes, not hours, away

Linda Rider
Richard Columbo is grateful that he only has to drive a couple of miles to receive chemotherapy. UCHealth and Mt. San Rafael Hospital in Trinidad have teamed up to provide care closer to home for patients in southern Colorado who need chemotherapy. Photos: UCHealth.
Richard Columbo is grateful that he only has to push a couple of miles to receive chemotherapy. UCHealth and Mt. San Rafael Clinic in Trinidad have teamed up to deliver treatment nearer to residence for patients in southern Colorado who need to have chemotherapy. Pictures: UCHealth.

The way Richard Columbo describes his journey with esophageal most cancers borrows from a popular tune by the Beatles.

“It’s been a extensive and winding road,’’ claims Columbo, an artist who life in Trinidad, Colorado, with his spouse, Debi Hoyle.

In the months since he discovered in May possibly 2020 that he had esophageal most cancers, Columbo has had a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments in Arizona, the place he lived aspect of the 12 months, and Colorado. Fortuitously, the street to his chemotherapy therapies is now only about 1.5 miles.

Access to cancer procedure in rural southern Colorado

In the springtime, UCHealth Memorial Medical center Central and Mt. San Rafael Hospital in Trinidad teamed up to give chemotherapy treatment method in Trinidad, removing a 129-mile, a person-way drive to Colorado Springs. UCHealth prepares chemotherapy in Colorado Springs, couriers the medicine to Trinidad, exactly where nurses at Mt. San Rafael infuse the treatment.

When Columbo comes at the Trinidad clinic, a staff members member opens the doorway for him and announces: “Here’s our VIP.’’

Dr. Robert Hoyer provides rural medicine in Colorado.
Dr. Robert Hoyer

Columbo appreciates the 5-star treatment. He’s expended a life time teaching artwork – drawing, painting and sculpting – to youngsters and university learners since he believes it’s critical to produce the creative mind. When he lived in California, Columbo worked with the Children’s Museum of San Diego to present a system titled: Option Components in Artwork. He taught kids how to turn recyclables into eye-catching art parts.

Columbo is happy of his get the job done, and he recognizes when individuals are excellent at that craft, even if it unfolds in a clinical environment.

“Our people today at this hospital have been incredible, so caring,’’ Columbo states.

The collaboration between the two hospitals started in the springtime. Dr. Robert Hoyer, an oncologist at UCHealth’s Most cancers Middle in Colorado Springs, goes to Trinidad two times a thirty day period and sees individuals from Trinidad, Walsenburg, the San Luis Valley and Raton, N.M. Hoyer also visits Lamar five occasions a thirty day period, caring for sufferers from the Arkansas Valley and western Kansas. The outreach, which contains quite a few specialties in Lamar, is part of UCHealth’s exertion to improve accessibility to health care for sufferers in rural Colorado.

“It’s the ideal issue for individuals,’’ Hoyer explained. “I really consider it is a exclusive detail.’’

Most cancers treatment shut to house lessens the burden of travel

Hoyer claimed that people coming from Trinidad to Colorado Springs for care could commit two to 3 hours driving one way, for a take a look at that could final 30 minutes.

A lifelong artist, Richard Columbo shows some of his work. Columbo has esophageal cancer and does not have to drive two hours to Colorado Springs for chemotherapy treatments.
A lifelong artist, Richard Columbo demonstrates some of his work. Columbo has esophageal cancer and does not have to push two hrs to Colorado Springs for chemotherapy treatment options.

“The time and cost genuinely add up quickly, and if a affected individual is not feeling properly right after a take a look at, to be in a vehicle for 2-3 several hours on the way home, from a quality-of-daily life standpoint, it can make a ton of perception to carry the clinic and the medicine to them,’’ Hoyer said.

Some regimens for chemotherapy can very last from two to 6 hours, and some of the regimens are Working day 1, Day 2 and Working day 3. You can see how this can rapidly include up,’’ Hoyer explained.

In his travels to Trinidad and Lamar, Hoyer has witnessed the problems for individuals in rural communities to obtain care.

“There is a enormous require throughout the state of Colorado and carrying out these outreach clinics has really opened my eyes to the scenario of rural drugs in our nation and our condition,’’ he explained. “There are pretty several most important treatment physicians in communities, so it is a really great matter for clients to have that access and to strengthen that obtain.

“When people can get the the vast majority of their treatment close to household it can help to increase high-quality of lifetime for the patient and for their families as effectively. They never have to consider extra time off do the job, they have extra time with loved ones, and less driving.’’

Most cancers prognosis when you live in a rural space

Columbo’s most cancers journey commenced with bouts of consuming problems. He’d swallow food stuff, but it would arrive appropriate back again up. Imaging showed he experienced a tumor at the junction of his esophagus and stomach. He has sought treatment method in Colorado and Arizona, and has integrated acupuncture, Chinese teas, and other substitute medications into his treatment. More than time, he’s shed about 50 pounds.

He has done five of seven classes of chemotherapy at the Trinidad medical center to stem the Phase IV cancer, which has unfold to his liver.

As Richard Columbo says, his journey with cancer has been "a long and winding road.’’ He is seated with his wife, Debi Hoyle.
As Richard Columbo says, his journey with most cancers has been “a extended and winding street.’’ He is seated with his wife, Debi Hoyle.

“It normally takes me down,’’ he suggests of chemotherapy cure.

Hoyle is grateful for the care her spouse gets at their community medical center.

“They put him in a mattress they give him ease and comfort. They look at him like a hawk, no matter whether it is a transfusion or chemo, they’re viewing him regularly,’’ Hoyle claimed.

Joe Vigil, a nurse at Mt. San Rafael who takes care of people, explained it is been a gift to present the remedies in Trinidad.

“It’s been actually great for the sufferers to be equipped to receive chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and to get to know them on a own foundation. We get to know their spouse and children and their tales, and they get to know ours,’’ Vigil claimed.

The infusion middle is in a newly transformed element of the medical center.

A photo of Bruce Livingston
Bruce Livingston. Image: UCHealth

For Bruce Livingston, a resident of Trinidad, getting chemotherapy at San Rafael Healthcare facility, is a gift of benefit. Livingston has pancreatic most cancers and gets chemotherapy 2 times a week.

“Are you kidding me? It is key. I go from my home to San Rafael Hospital, it probably normally takes me 7 minutes,’’ Livingston stated.  “And they have anything ready, it’s been requested from the doctors. They truly hold an eye on my platelet rely. It’s got to be above 100 ahead of they’ll do infusion.’’

Not obtaining to make the long travel to Colorado Springs makes his everyday living simpler.

“Chemo hits kind of difficult,’’ he explained.

Developing group in rural counties

Casey Peat, a nurse supervisor in the infusion unit at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, explained the collaboration amongst Mt. San Rafael and UCHealth has helped to develop group.

“This is bringing a service to that community that wasn’t there prior to,’’ Peat stated. “Patients really do not have to drive so considerably away to get providers, and the nurses at San Rafael have the aid of excellence. We are obtainable to them. If it is a new medication, or they require some aid or have questions, they can access out to us for that assist.

“We are also satisfied to make the trip there to be there in particular person. General, we’re aiding people today and we’re supporting in developing nursing, what they can do. It’s a terrific partnership that we have with them,’’ she said.

For sufferers like Columbo, it would make the long and winding street a tiny additional pleasant.

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