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Cancer Center Growing to Meet Community Needs

Community news | Friday, October 15, 2021

Contact: Katie Johnson

[Fergus Falls, MN] Unfortunately, cancer care continues to be a growing need in our communities. Thankfully, the vision of community and healthcare leaders several years ago, combined with generous donations totaling over $10 million, has made a world-class cancer care available in Fergus Falls for over a decade now. Lake Region Healthcare’s (LRH) Cancer Care & Research Center has several new developments to announce as they keep pace with demands and changes in best practices for cancer care.

New Cancer Center Director

Susan Nordberg joined the LRH leadership team as the Director of their Cancer Care & Research Center in August. She comes to LRH with over 15 years of experience in leading cancer care in Minnesota at the Maplewood Cancer Center and Allina Health in Minneapolis. She is also a radiation therapist and a dosimetrist, as well as a green belt in LEAN Six Sigma and holds her master’s degree in Health Administration from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL.

“We are thrilled to have Susan joining our team to oversee all cancer center operations and work collaboratively with staff and providers to ensure we continue to provide great cancer services to the communities we serve,” said Kent Mattson, CEO. “She is passionate about cancer care and appreciates the importance of delivering exceptional, compassionate cancer care close to home.”

Susan says she is excited about the opportunity to use her experience and leadership skills to compliment the already great work of the cancer center team. “In my experience, maintaining a highly productive, efficient, quality and safety-driven environment is key to effectively improving both customer and employee satisfaction and I’m happy to be part of the efforts to continually improve on the cancer care services we provide here,” she said. Susan is also a past board member at Summit Orthopedics and the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce and she enjoys volunteering her time to organizations like Feed My Starving Children and Free Bikes 4 Kids.

New Chemo Chairs, New Spaces and New Linear Accelerator

Fourteen new chemotherapy chairs arrived at the cancer center in late September, significantly improving the patient experience. “Thanks to donor support, the $160,000 investment in replacing the well-worn original chemo chairs was possible sooner than we could have operationally budgeted for replacement,” Nordberg said. A full story on the chemo chair replacement campaign can be found here.

Several of these chairs have been placed in what was previously the conference room which has now been remodeled into space for patient infusions. “It’s not ideal, but it’s another beautiful and comfortable space for our patients on an interim basis until we can complete further space planning to address our current and future needs,” she added. The Lake Region Healthcare Phatty Nattie’s group fitness space in the basement of the center recently relocated to make more room for the cancer center’s growing needs as well. The fitness classes are now located with LRH’s other community wellness services in the Mehl Center across from the hospital on Cascade Street.

Similar to the chemo chairs, the center’s linear accelerator is original to the 2010 building and nearing end-of-life. As one of the most expensive pieces of capital equipment in the entire organization, it is central to providing the best possible care. Planning has been in the works for several months regarding the investment in a new linear accelerator to replace the original unit and hopes are that work can begin on the project later this year. “We will need to suspend our radiation oncology services for a period of time to allow for the replacement, so timing is critical in order to minimize downtime,” Nordberg said. She said they will be working with providers and patients to schedule right up to the vault closure and will lean on regional partners to help address patient needs until the new machine is back online.

“Philanthropy played a key role in our ability to open a cancer center and it remains critical to our ability to re-invest in the best of the best for cancer care,” Mattson said. “Our team at the cancer center proves day in and day out that this is a very special place to receive cancer care. We are grateful to be able to continue investing in maintaining and growing our excellent community cancer program.”

About the Lake Region Healthcare Enterprise

The Lake Region Healthcare enterprise is comprised of Lake Region Healthcare, an independent community-governed non-profit headquartered in Fergus Falls, the Mill Street Residence Assisted Living Facility in Fergus Falls, and the non-profit critical access hospital, Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services headquartered in Elbow Lake. With over 120 medical staff and over 1,100 employees, we are dedicated to serving the healthcare needs of our communities with values of Excellence, Person-Centered, Collaboration, Stewardship, Integrity, Respect and Innovation. Together we bring specialty and sub-specialty services to patients at hospital locations in Fergus Falls and Elbow Lake and at clinics in Ashby, Barnesville, Battle Lake, Evansville, Herman, Hoffman, and Morris, MN. For more information visit: www.lrhc.org, www.prairiehealth.org or www.millstreet.lrhc.org.