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A shining light during a time of need

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A shining light during a time of need

SuzAnne Griffis of Mount Pleasant is no stranger to Henry County Health Center. In fact, she has interacted with so many departments that when she speaks of HCHC it is with fondness and gratitude.

Griffis’ journey with HCHC began in October of 2010 when she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. Her family physician Kent Metcalf, D.O., referred her to HCHC General Surgeon Michelle Tansey, M.D. Griffis had complete confidence in Dr. Tansey and her qualifications and experience in treating breast cancer.

“Dr. Tansey took punch biopsies and said she’d see me back for the results. My mother had breast cancer and later died of pancreatic cancer, so I’ve always had my checks and screenings. I knew what it meant when I got the call from Dr. Tansey’s office saying to bring someone with me to my follow-up appointment,” said Griffis.

After she was told the cancer diagnosis, tests were scheduled for the remainder of the week. Griffis underwent a mastectomy performed by Dr. Tansey, which was then followed by chemotherapy. This was all done at HCHC by people she knew and trusted.

“I went to school with Deb Helmerson, one of the Infusion/Chemotherapy nurses. She asked if I was okay with her caring for me. I said I’d have it no other way. I prefer to be treated by someone I know who cares about my well-being. Deb was very professional and assured me that everything was confidential,” explained Griffis.

In addition to having surgery and chemotherapy at HCHC, Griffis has also experienced Lab, Inpatient Services, and the visiting University of Iowa oncologists in HCHC’s Specialty Clinic. She has been to Radiology for ultrasound, mammography, CT scans, bone scans, and MRIs where staff “knew her by name, and were very loving and concerned.”  She has received therapy in Rehabilitation Services which was a positive experience as well.

In May 2013 Griffis found that the cancer had gone into her bones. At that point she was in Infusion Therapy every other week and was a patient twice in Inpatient Services. She was informed by the oncologist that she would be on some type of treatment for the rest of her life.

When talking about her multitude of experiences with the different HCHC departments, the common thread was the care, compassion and individualized treatment that Griffis received from all the staff.

“This is a small community and you’re bound to run into someone you know. It is a comfort knowing the people who care for me. At larger hospitals I’ve felt like just a number, not a person. But there’s a certain family love at HCHC. You get to know people and develop friendships,” she explained.

Griffis has always been confident in the healthcare she has received at HCHC. From the very beginning when she was diagnosed with cancer she had full confidence in Dr. Tansey.

“I felt very comfortable and was very accepting of Dr. Tansey’s knowledge and abilities in treating my breast cancer. She is very knowledgeable, well prepared, and had everything planned out. Knowing I had a family history of breast cancer and that I have a daughter, she ordered a genetic test which thankfully came back negative,” said Griffis. “Dr. Tansey is also very personable. Whenever I see her out in the community or at events like Relay for Life, she always speaks to me.”

And the kindness doesn’t stop there. Griffis speaks highly of the Infusion/Chemotherapy nurses who were “always very accommodating, personable and great at explaining.” In addition to providing education and emotional support, these nurses have even gone to Griffis’ oncology appointments to answer her questions about the visit. Griffis also appreciated the partnership between HCHC and University of Iowa Oncology, and knowing that HCHC nurses had direct communication with her oncologist.

Griffis has appreciated her care so much that she felt the desire to give back to the health center by volunteering at the Information Desk and Gift Shop. She also helped initiate a Cancer Support Group led by the Infusion/Chemotherapy nurses. The support groups is now regularly held the fourth Monday of each month.

“It is reassuring to have this quality healthcare close to home and to know that if something happens I’ll be cared for. It’s also comforting to know that I can go anywhere in the health center and receive good care. The fact that I don’t have to drive out of town for my healthcare is a blessing,” she commented. “I definitely recommend HCHC to others.”