ST. LOUIS - Saint Louis University Hospital will open the region’s first comprehensive outpatient bone marrow transplant center December 4, allowing some cancer patients the ability to return home during treatment rather than face a lengthy inpatient hospital stay.
The center, located within the Saint Louis University Cancer Center on the main hospital’s campus, will be the only bone marrow transplant center providing patients the option to receive their bone marrow transplant predominantly in an outpatient setting.
Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is an intensive treatment modality for patients diagnosed with cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. In the procedure, medical oncologists “transplant” cells – either from the patient prior to treatment (autologous) or from a donor (allogeneic ) -- into the patient’s bloodstream to rebuild their system after significant chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
The only option for patients in St. Louis prior to this new center was for patients to stay in a hospital’s bone marrow transplant unit for several weeks. At Saint Louis University Hospital, appropriate patients will be treated during the day at the new 16-room outpatient center and go home in the evening. For those patients who live outside a 30-minute driving distance from the hospital, Saint Louis University Hospital’s Auxiliary House will provide a closer option.
“Patients prefer to stay in the comforts of their home and the new outpatient bone marrow transplant center provides patients the comfort of home during an extremely difficult time in their lives,” says Friedrich G. Schuening, MD, director of the division of hematology and oncology at the Saint Louis University Cancer Center. “Bone marrow transplantation has revolutionized the treatment of these blood cancer diseases and performing them on an outpatient basis does not affect survival rates.”
In fact, studies in the journals Nature and the Journal of Clinical Oncology found no difference in clinical complications for patients treated in an outpatient setting as compared to those treated exclusively in an inpatient setting.
The outpatient center will compliment Saint Louis University Hospital’s inpatient bone marrow transplant program, which has grown significantly under Dr. Schuening. He developed a similar outpatient program at Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center prior to joining SLUCare in 2011. In addition, he received subspecialty training in hematology and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and subsequently was a faculty member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where the first bone marrow transplants in the United States were performed in the late 1960s.
“We have a very complex and talented team which includes nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, counselors and many others who make the patient experience seamless and successful,” says Dr. Schuening. “We are patient and family focused and can address all of the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of care.”
One of the goals for the program is to increase patient access to a quality bone marrow transplant program. SLU Hospital works closely with oncology groups throughout the Midwest to enhance the awareness of new treatments and care options that often increase positive outcomes for cancer patients who may live in rural areas.
“Providing access to care to all patients who require a tertiary level of treatment is a critical part of our mission at Saint Louis University Hospital,” says Phillip E. Sowa, chief executive officer. “We work with a large network of physicians and hospitals throughout Missouri and Illinois to ensure collaboration of care so all patients are treated appropriately and cared for in the best possible way, clinically and compassionately.”
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About Saint Louis University Hospital Saint Louis University Hospital is a 356-licensed bed quaternary/tertiary referral center located in the heart of the city of St. Louis. Approximately 75 percent of patients are drawn from a 150-mile radius. Through affiliation as the teaching hospital for Saint Louis University, the hospital provides patients and their families with an environment of medical innovation. Working in this endeavor are the hospital’s medical staff partners, SLUCare, the physicians of Saint Louis University. The hospital admits more than 17,000 patients annually, performs more than 200 organ transplants a year and is a Level I Trauma Center that treats more than 2,000 major trauma cases a year. For more information, please visit www.sluhospital.com.
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