About YRMC

  • Gurley Street Grill Helps Boot Out Cancer

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686 | Dec 10, 2014

    Restaurant Raises Funds for YRMC Community BreastCare Fund

    Breast cancer prevention in the Quad Cities got a boost in October, thanks to a campaign sponsored by the Gurley Street Grill, 230 W. Gurley St., Prescott. The campaign – Boot Out Cancer – raised $12,568 for the YRMC Community BreastCare Fund.

    Krystal Burge and Mark Peterson, founders of Fork in the Road Restaurants, which owns Gurley Street Grill, recently presented the check to John Amos, President and CEO, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC).

    “Women from our communities who cannot afford screening, diagnostics or treatment turn to the YRMC Community BreastCare Fund for help,” said Amos. “With the excellent support of the Gurley Street Grill team and its patrons, we’ll reach even more women in our community who need breast care.”

    During Boot Out Cancer, Gurley Street Grill sold koozies in the shape of cowboy (or girl) boots. The restaurant also displayed a large pink cowboy boot for people who wanted to drop in a few dollars to support the cause.

    “I think everybody knows someone who has had breast cancer or has been touched by it in some way,” said Chris Brady, Director of Marketing, Fork in the Road Restaurants. “The timing was perfect and the campaign was a great fit.”

    For more information about the YRMC Community BreastCare Fund, call (928) 442-8900 or 1-877-436-5290.

     


  • YRMC Welcomes East Campus Administrator: New Leader Combines Administrative and Clinical Experience

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686 | Sep 15, 2014

    Frank R. Almendarez, MHSA, has joined Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) as its East Campus Administrator.

    “I knew I wanted to be part of the YRMC team after my first visit,” said Almendarez. “Everyone I met was kind, welcoming and professional. I was also impressed by how well the two campuses coordinate services in order to meet the community’s healthcare needs.”

    Almendarez brings extensive administrative as well as clinical experience to Prescott Valley. Before joining YRMC, he served as Chief Operating Officer of Willamette Valley Medical Center in Oregon. Prior to that, Almendarez was Chief Clinical and Nursing Officer at Alta Vista Regional Hospital in New Mexico.

    Almendarez earned a Master of Health Services Administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. He also has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from California State University, Stanislaus.

     “YRMC’s vision for a Total Healing Environment compliments my leadership vision,” he said. “As healthcare providers, I believe we need to provide physical, mental and spiritual support for patients and their family members.”

    As a registered nurse, Almendarez is familiar with the value of caring for the “total person.” He recalls a night that he was working in the emergency department (ED) of a hospital and an elderly man experiencing chest pain suffered a heart attack. Almendarez, who was performing CPR, called for staff to bring the gentleman’s wife of 50 years from the waiting area. Almendarez asked the wife to hold her husband’s hand and talk to him. As the ED team continued CPR and other life-saving measures, they called out the man’s name and encouraged him not to give up. After much effort, the man’s heart began beating.

    “Three months later, that man, his wife and his granddaughter returned to the hospital to thank the ED team,” Almendarez said. “He told me that he could hear me calling his name while I was performing CPR. That was an eye opener. It demonstrated for me the importance of having behaviors engaging in total healing.”

    In addition to supporting YRMC’s vision for a Total Healing Environment, Almendarez is committed to identifying ways to increase the hospital’s efficiency and to getting involved in several Prescott Valley service organizations.  

    Almendarez and his family are enjoying their new home and his son’s school, both in Prescott Valley. The family is taking advantage of the community’s many festivals and outdoor activities. Almendarez also is looking forward to attending his son’s soccer games.

     

  • YRMC Earns Level IV Trauma Designation

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686 | Aug 06, 2014

    Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) East and West recently received Level IV Trauma Designation from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), Bureau of Emergency Services and Trauma System.

    “This is confirmation of YRMC’s work to prepare for trauma designation,” said Irene Connor, RN, Director, Emergency Services, YRMC East. “To qualify, the state requires significant staff education as well as changes to a hospital’s physical plant.”

    YRMC joins the state’s trauma network, which includes 26 Level IV trauma centers at hospitals throughout Arizona. Using state-established criteria, emergency physicians and nurses from Level IV trauma centers may treat a trauma patient or determine the best level of care for the trauma patient. At YRMC, when a trauma alert is activated the hospital’s specially trained team assembles in five minutes or less.

    “We’re ready to go when the patient arrives,” said Rob Barth, RN, MSN, MBA, CEN, Director, Emergency Services, YRMC West. “We’re committed to ensuring the patient is treated here or transferred to a different level of care—sometimes while still in the field—during that first critical hour.”

    YRMC’s trauma teams are comprised of six to 10 medical professionals, including:

    • Emergency Physicians
    • Emergency Nurses
    • Emergency Department Technicians
    • Cardiopulmonary (EKG) Technologists
    • Phlebotomists
    • Radiologic Technologists
    • Respiratory Therapists
    • Security Officers

    “Our nurses have completed trauma training and our physicians are board certified in Emergency Medicine or have earned Advanced Trauma Life Support certification,” said Christopher Thompson, RN, YRMC’s Trauma Coordinator.

    To sustain YRMC’s Level IV trauma designation, Thompson will:

    • educate YRMC’s trauma team about current trends in trauma care;
    • pursue ongoing review of the trauma team’s performance; and
    • sponsor community education outreach programs to prevent trauma.
    “This is a huge commitment for the hospital,” Thompson said. “It’s a testament to YRMC’s dedication to its Total Healing Environment.”
  • YRMC Schedules Annual Meeting for Wednesday, April 30

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686 | Apr 02, 2014

    The Yavapai Community Hospital Association, which does business and operates as Yavapai Regional Medical Center, will hold its annual meeting on Wednesday, April 30, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Thumb Butte Room on the Campus of YRMC West in Prescott. The public is invited to attend.

    The purpose of YRMC’s annual meeting is to summarize the hospital’s achievements during the previous calendar year.

    • Cathy Cunningham will present the Council of Electors’ Report.
    • Clifford Morgan, M.D., will present the Chairman of the Board of Trustees’ Report.
    • Patrick Gallus, D.O., Chief of Staff, will present the President of the Medical Staff’s Report.
    • Lynnel Walters will present the Director of Volunteers’ Report.
    • John Amos will present the President and Chief Executive Officer’s Report.
    • In addition, two Yavapai Community Hospital Association members will be elected to one-year terms on the Council of Electors.

    Copies of YRMC’s 2013 Annual Report will be presented to members of the Board of Trustees and made available to members of the public.

    For more information on Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s annual meeting, contact the Administration Office at (928) 771-5676.

  • YRMC Launches CareConnect: A Secure and Convenient Way to Access Your Health Records Online

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686 | Feb 07, 2014

    If you’ve ever been hospitalized at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC), you’re eligible to subscribe to CareConnect, a secure, confidential and convenient way to access your health records online.

    “With CareConnect, YRMC is giving you access to your health information anywhere you have an Internet connection,” said Dee Betts, YRMC’s Director of Health Information Management (HIM). “If you’re traveling and have a medical emergency, CareConnect gives you access to your health record. If you want to check the results of recent blood work, CareConnect gives you access to your health record. This is your health information available to you when you need it.”

    CareConnect is a valuable and convenient source of information for YRMC patients that includes:

    • Clinical summaries or discharge documents from all YRMC visits (Emergency Department, inpatient and observation)
    • Laboratory results
    • Immunization records
    • Medication history
    • Allergy information
    • Health issues being treated
    • Complete  list of visits to YRMC
    • Upcoming appointments at YRMC

    “CareConnect helps YRMC patients make informed healthcare decisions,” said Michelle Henson, Supervisor of YRMC’s HIM department. “It gives people access to much of the same high-quality healthcare information available to their caregivers.”

    People hospitalized after June 11, 2012 – when YRMC’s electronic medical record (EMR) was introduced – may access their health record information through CareConnect. However, anyone who has ever been hospitalized at YRMC is encouraged to set up a CareConnect account in order to begin building their secure online health record.

    Creating a CareConnect account is simple and takes approximately 10 minutes. To set up an account contact:

    • Health Information Management, YRMC West, (928) 771-5657, extension 0  
    • Health Information Management, YRMC East, (928) 442-8657  
    • Admitting Department, YRMC West, (928) 771-5110  
    • Admitting Department, YRMC East, (928) 442-8110

    “With CareConnect, people can be on top of information about their health,” Betts said. “CareConnect empowers people.”

    For more information about CareConnect or other YRMC programs and services, visit www.yrmc.org.

     

     

     

  • YRMC Introduces Second HANA™ Table: Hospital Expands Availability of Revolutionary Hip Replacement Surgery

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686 | Feb 05, 2014

    Anterior Approach hip replacement – a revolutionary alternative to conventional surgery is now available at either Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) West or East thanks to the recent addition of a second HANA™ Hip and Knee Arthroplasty Table.

    “The hospital is committed to ensuring our community has access to this minimally invasive hip replacement surgery,” said Spencer Schuenman, DO, YRMC’s Director of Orthopaedic Surgical Services. “In addition to the availability of a HANA table at both campuses, YRMC provides a comprehensive continuum of care for people undergoing Anterior Approach hip replacement.”

    That continuum of care begins with diagnosis from a YRMC orthopaedic surgeon and is supported by a patient education program that starts before the patient undergoes the Anterior Approach procedure. After the surgery, patients participate in individually tailored therapy programs developed by YRMC’s Physical Rehabilitation team.

    “Anterior Approach hip replacement has transformed conventional hip replacement,” said Dr. Schuenman. “After Anterior Approach, most people feel better than they felt before the procedure.”

    Such positive outcomes are possible when combined with advanced equipment – the HANA table – and a superior surgical team. Dr. Schuenman has been performing Anterior Approach procedures for approximately two years. He trained with Joel M. Mata, MD, co-designer of the HANA table and originator of Anterior Approach hip replacement in North America.

    During an Anterior Approach hip replacement, Dr. Schuenman accesses the patient’s hip joint from the front (anterior) of the hip by moving the HANA table and then making a three-to-four inch incision. The HANA table uses x-ray imaging which allows for controlled placement of the new hip – a challenge for surgeons doing conventional hip replacement surgery.

    “The HANA table allows for perfect positioning of the hip for every patient,” he said. “This is a reproducible outcome.”

    Because the Anterior Approach procedure does not disturb muscles essential to hip function – like conventional hip replacement – patients are walking within hours of the procedure and return quickly to their normal activities.

    When compared to conventional hip replacement surgery, Anterior Approach hip replacement features:

    • Less muscle trauma (conventional hip surgery requires the surgeon to detach muscle from the pelvis or femur)
    • Reduced hospitalization
    • Smaller incision (three to four inches compared to ten to 12 inches with conventional hip replacement)
    • Less blood loss (particularly when combined with YRMC’s Patient Blood Management strategies)
    • Reduced pain
    • Faster recovery (a total of two to eight weeks compared to two to four months with conventional hip replacement)
    • No post-operative restrictions and less concern about dislocation

    “YRMC’s Orthopaedic program is recognized as among the top nationwide by leading quality assessment organizations,” Dr.  Schuenman said. “For hip replacements, YRMC is one of 34 hospitals from among nearly 700 to receive the highest score from a well-respected consumer rating organization. When I see this kind of recognition, it makes me even more proud to work with such an excellent team of surgeons, physicians, nurses, surgical technicians and therapists.”

  • YRMC Unveils Community Health Needs Assessment

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686, released Dec. 10, 2013 | Jan 22, 2014

    Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) has published its 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment. The assessment – conducted every three years – is a comprehensive look at the health needs of Yavapai County residents with a focus on western Yavapai County.

    “As the area’s leading not-for-profit healthcare provider, YRMC goes to great lengths to stay connected to the community,” said Robbie Nicol, YRMC’s Executive Director of Community Outreach and Philanthropy. “The Community Health Needs Assessment provides information that allows YRMC to take that connection to an even deeper level. It ensures our services, programs and partnerships benefit the people we serve.”

    The report highlights the challenges that can affect overall community health. It also reveals the need for effective partnerships between YRMC and other local not-for-profit organizations to address those challenges. The Community Health Needs Assessment was developed using data from county and national sources as well as surveys and interviews with key local organizations. 

    “This report is an opportunity for the entire community to focus on ways to improve the health of western Yavapai County residents,” Nicol said. “YRMC is proud to lead this effort by sharing this valuable information.”

    The Community Health Needs Assessment covers Yavapai County with a focus on western Yavapai County, including the Quad-Cities area of Chino Valley, Dewey/Humboldt, Prescott and Prescott Valley. Also included in the assessment are the communities of Bagdad, Mayer, Paulden and Skull Valley.

    The 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment is available for download free of charge via YRMC’s website located at www.yrmc.org. For more information, contact YRMC’s Community Outreach Department at (928) 771-5686.

  • YRMC Diagnostic Radiologist Named 2013 Physician of the Year

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686 | Jan 22, 2014

    Ask Brian Kimball, MD—Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s (YRMC’s) 2013 Physician of the Year—what he enjoys most about his work and he’ll summarize it in two words: “The people.”

    The board certified diagnostic radiologist joined the hospital’s medical staff in 2002, after considering other hospitals in Arizona and Utah.

    “The community and the hospital are just full of good people,” he said. “YRMC’s physicians, nurses and technologists provide excellent care. The entire staff is kind and professional. I’m proud to be part of that.”

    Before joining YRMC, Dr. Kimball served as an Air Force physician. From 1999-2002, he was stationed at Eglin AFB in Florida. Prior to that, he earned his medical degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska and was a resident at the University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson.

    Dr. Kimball enjoyed Tucson, his wife’s hometown, but he missed the feeling that comes from living in a smaller community.

    “I grew up in Richfield, Utah, which was a community of about 5,000 residents at that time,” he said. “When my wife and I visited Prescott, I knew that it had the small-town feel I was missing.”

    According to John Amos, YRMC President and CEO, Dr. Kimball exemplifies the hospital’s Total Healing Environment in his interactions with patients as well as hospital staff and volunteers.

    “Dr. Kimball always puts the patient first,” said Amos. “He strives for excellence in the care he provides patients and believes wholeheartedly in the value of every member of the YRMC team. He brings YRMC’s Mission and Vision to life every day.”

    The YRMC Physician of the Year is presented annually to a doctor who:

    • provides excellent patient care;
    • builds positive relationships with employees and volunteers;
    • shows respect for everyone with whom he or she comes in contact;
    • demonstrates sensitivity to patients’ needs and desires; and
    • takes pride in the hospital.
  • First Cranial Neurosurgeries Performed at YRMC

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686, released March 14, 2012 | Jan 03, 2014

    Top Neurosurgeon Brings Expertise and Experience to the Quad Cities

    The first cranial neurosurgeries ever performed in the Quad City region took place recently at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC). The two successful surgeries— Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting procedures—were performed by accomplished neurosurgeon, Harvey G. Thomas, MD, FRCFC, who joined YRMC six months ago.

    “There is a need in the community for VP shunting,” Dr. Thomas said. “Now that this important service is available here, people who require it can remain close to home with support from family and friends.”

    VP Shunting Surgery Performed at YRMC

    VP shunting is performed to relieve pressure on the brain due to surplus cerebrospinal fluid, which may occur in people suffering from dementia, brain tumors or other conditions. This excess fluid can cause people to suffer from stroke-like symptoms. VP shunting re-routes the fluid, relieving the pressure on the brain and alleviating the patient’s symptoms.

    During a VP shunting surgery, Dr. Thomas creates a small opening in the patient’s skull. He then inserts reed-thin tubing and directs it to the patient’s abdominal cavity. Dr. Thomas also places a dime-sized pressure valve under the skin behind the patient’s right ear. The tubing and valve together re-direct the fluid away from the brain to the abdomen where it can be reabsorbed into the body. The pressure valve is programmable and may be adjusted—opened for additional flow or closed tighter—even after the surgery by using a computer with specially designed software. The amount of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain is measured during CT scans of the patient’s head approximately four weeks after surgery and again six weeks post-surgery.

    “A build-up of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain can cause forgetfulness, lack of concentration, problems walking and even incontinence,” said Dr. Thomas. “This procedure can relieve those symptoms for many people. And now, folks who need VP shunting don’t have to travel outside of our community for it.”

    YRMC Prepares for VP Shunting

    Before YRMC’s first VP shunting surgery, the hospital diligently prepared for the surgery by providing training for its nursing staff and purchasing special equipment for the surgical suite.

    “VP shunting is the foundation for the hospital's entire Intracranial Neurosurgery program,” said Diane Drexler, RN, BSN, MBA, FACHE, YRMC’s Chief Nursing Officer. “The efforts we took to prepare for this surgery have established a strong foundation for the program going forward.”

    YRMC’s nursing staff participated in classroom sessions led by Dr. Thomas and Physician Assistant Jeremy Platt, PA, PA-C. During these sessions, Dr. Thomas and Platt highlighted the role of the nursing team before, during and after VP shunting surgery. YRMC nurses also visited another hospital as part of their training program to prepare for VP shunting surgeries. From the pre-admission work the nursing staff pursues with patients, through surgery and recovery, YRMC’s nursing team was prepared to care for neurosurgical patients.

    “Dr. Thomas has a great relationship with the nursing team,” Drexler said. “They know both Dr. Thomas and Jeremy are available to them as resources. This is so critical to a successful program.”

    YRMC Launches Neurosurgery Program

    Building the Neurosurgery program has been a collaborative effort between YRMC’s leadership—the executive team and its Board of Trustees—and Dr. Thomas.

    “Every decision about the Neurosurgery program has been made with our community and patients in mind,” said Tim Barnett, YRMC’s President and CEO. “We are extremely pleased the program includes Dr. Thomas, who is an exceptional neurosurgeon, and a great addition to our community.”

    Dr. Thomas, who is affiliated with YRMC PhysicianCare, came to the Quad Cities from the Phoenix-area, where he helped found Arizona Spine and Joint Hospital. He also served as that hospital’s Chairman of the Board. Before that, Dr. Thomas was Surgery Department Chair at Chandler Regional Medical Center. Dr. Thomas is board certified as a neurosurgeon by the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. In 2010, he was selected as a “Top Doc” by Phoenix Magazine.
  • YRMC Recognized As National Leader in Patient Safety

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686, released January 27, 2012 | Jan 03, 2014
    Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) is among six healthcare organizations nationwide—four of them hospitals—to receive the CNA Leadership in Safety Award since it was initiated by CNA HealthPro in 2009. The award was presented to YRMC leaders in December by CNA HealthPro executives.

    “Every day, I see people throughout YRMC demonstrating their commitment to the hospital’s Total Healing Environment,” said Tim Barnett, YRMC President and CEO. “However, when representatives of an organization outside of YRMC observe our values in action and then feel compelled to recognize us, I can’t help but feel extremely proud of the YRMC team.”
    Chicago-based CNA is a major provider of professional liability insurance for hospitals and other healthcare providers throughout the country. The CNA HealthPro representatives with whom YRMC works nominated the hospital for this award.

    “YRMC’s patient-centered approach to delivering care demonstrates its ongoing commitment to the community it serves,” said June Leigh, CNA HealthPro Assistant Vice President, Risk Control. The CNA Leadership in Safety Award recognizes healthcare organizations that have exhibited excellence in patient safety.

    “We work with many outstanding healthcare organizations, but only a select few are recipients of this award,” Leigh said. “The award represents organizations with enterprise-wide patient safety and quality improvement programs – dedicating their resources to achieve measurable results focusing upon outstanding customer service.”
  • "Top Doc" Joins YRMC PhysicianCare

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686, released November 9, 2011 | Jan 03, 2014

    Physician Introduces Neurosurgical Specialty to Quad Cities

    When Harvey G. Thomas, MD, FRCFC, joined YRMC PhysicianCare in September, he brought outstanding credentials, an exceptional team and years of experience. He also brought a much-needed medical service to the Quad Cities.

    “With Dr. Thomas’ arrival, we welcomed one of Arizona’s finest neurosurgeons to our community,” said Don Bolin, MBA, CMPE, Executive Director of YRMC’s employed physician network, YRMC PhysicianCare. “Today, residents in need of delicate back surgery have access to this extraordinary neurosurgeon.”

    Dr. Thomas comes to the Quad Cities and YRMC PhysicianCare from the Phoenix-area, where he helped found Arizona Spine and Joint Hospital in Mesa and also served as its Chairman of the Board. Before that, Dr. Thomas held the prestigious post of Surgery Department Chair at Chandler Regional Medical Center. Dr. Thomas is board certified as a neurosurgeon by the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. He also is active in the American Association of Neurosurgeons and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.

    “I’m delighted to join YRMC PhysicianCare and YRMC,” he said. “The staff is very impressive. They know how to care for critically ill patients. They also were very eager to begin a neurosurgical program. With that kind of enthusiasm, there was no question about whether or not I would join the team.”

    Dr. Thomas—an expert on solutions to chronic back pain and cranial procedures—is a sought-after speaker for national medical conferences. He also publishes extensively in professional journals. One of his most prized recognitions, however, came in 2010 when he was selected as a “Top Doc” by Phoenix Magazine.

    “The ‘Top Docs’ are selected by a vote of physicians, your peers,” he said. “That was quite an honor to me.”

    Originally from Canada, Dr. Thomas received his medical degree from the University of Calgary. He pursued an internship at Edmonton General Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and a residency in neurosurgery from Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

    When he re-located his neurosurgical practice to the Quad Cities, Dr. Thomas’ wellestablished team joined him.

    “This was a group decision,” he said. “My core staff members and our families collaborated on the decision. In the end, the answer was a unanimous and enthusiastic yes!”

    That core staff includes physician assistant Jeremy Platt, PA, PA-C.

    “The addition of Dr. Thomas and his team is a boost to our entire community,” said Tim Barnett, President and CEO of Yavapai Regional Medical Center. “He brings extraordinary experience and also expands the scope of medical specialties available to the people of the Quad Cities.”

    Dr. Thomas may be reached at:
    YRMC PhysicianCare
    820 E. Ainsworth Drive, Suite B
    Prescott, AZ 86301
    928-445-4818

    When he is not caring for patients, Dr. Thomas likes to mountain bike on nearby trails.

    “Even before we moved to the area, we visited nearly every weekend. This is such a welcoming community. It’s a joy to call it home now.”

  • Lymphedema Program at YRMC

    by Community Outreach and Philanthropy, (928) 771-5686, released October 13, 2011 | Jan 03, 2014

    Lymphedema Program at YRMC Helps
    Breast Cancer Survivors Cope with the Aftermath

    Susan G. Komen for the Cure Grant Reaches Low & Middle Income Women

    Diane Bauer and Jeanne Hines have a powerful bond, even though they have never met. The two Quad City residents are breast cancer survivors who struggle with lymphedema. Both women have found relief through The Lymphedema Management Program at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC).

    “Unless you have experienced lymphedema,” said Bauer, “it’s hard to understand its impact.”

    Lymphedema is a side effect of cancer treatment that approximately 25 percent of breast cancer survivors experience. Its first signs may be as inconsequential as a heavy feeling in an extremity, a ring that seems tight, or even a watchband that doesn’t rest properly on the wrist. Initially, the swelling subsides at night but within weeks or months it becomes chronic and more intense. For some with lymphedema, the affected area can expand to several times its normal size. Lymphedema can limit mobility and affect how people feel about themselves.

    “My arm began to get larger, especially the upper arm, and it was painful,” recalled Hines. “It felt like it was tearing on the inside. My hand began to swell, too. We called it my fat baby hand because it was chubby like an infant’s hand.”

    That was in 2001, several years after Hines had undergone treatment for breast cancer. Bauer’s initial experience with lymphedema was different, but the results were similar. Her arm began to swell “fast and huge” when she began radiation therapy for breast cancer in April.

    “I had never heard of lymphedema,” Bauer said. “I learned that it was something that could be treated but that it would always be with me, which is sad.”

    Today, both women work every day to control their lymphedema. Thanks to The Lymphedema Management Program at YRMC—and a grant from Susan G. Komen Phoenix Affiliate—they have the knowledge and tools necessary to control their lymphedema. The tools are custom compression bandages and garments that are provided through a grant that YRMC received from Susan G. Komen Phoenix Affiliate this year. The grant targets low and middleincome women suffering from breast cancer-related lymphedema.

    A Phased Approach to Treating Lymphedema

    Donna Hannah, OTR/L, CLT-LANA, leads The Lymphedema Management Program at YRMC. Hannah is the only lymphedema therapist serving Yavapai County and one of eight in Arizona. Hannah—an occupational therapist who is certified by the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA)—has reached the highest level of accreditation in this specialized area. She sees firsthand the impact of lymphedema on breast cancer survivors.

    “At first, they wonder if their cancer has returned and the whole experience of breast cancer tumbles back on them,” she said. “In the beginning, we talk about how lymphedema is a chronic condition, but one that can be controlled. Once they understand they can control lymphedema, we get to work.”

    That work includes two major treatment phases, which typically last a total of four to six weeks or 16-20 visits. During the first phase, Hannah evaluates the patient’s condition and develops an individualized treatment plan. Plans may incorporate:

    • Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)—Lymphedema patients undergo intense manual lymphatic drainage, which Hannah teaches them so they can continue the practice after their treatment concludes. MLD is a massage technique that helps open working lymph nodes so they can help drain the affected areas. According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, combined with other therapies, MLD can reduce fluid up to 73 percent in breast cancer patients.
    • Compression Therapy—Bandaging the affected area after an MLD session also reduces lymphedema swelling. Hannah instructs women on how to apply short-stretch compression bandages during the first phase of treatment.
    • Exercises—Hannah works with patients on exercises that promote lymphatic flow and reduce swelling.
    • Skin Care—Keeping the skin clean and moisturized and preventing trauma, such as cuts and scrapes, can lessen the chances of skin infection that can cause lymphedema to get out of control.

    According to both Bauer and Hines, Hannah goes beyond the mechanics of treating lymphedema to help support and encourage patients.

    "Donna has so much training and experience," Hines said. ¡§She¡¦s also incredibly compassionate. She helped calm me when I needed it."

    Hannah is committed to educating patients about lymphedema so they can recognize it and seek early treatment. Lymphedema, for example, has stages:

    • Stage l -- The area (arm, hand or leg) is swollen and feels heavy. Pressing on the swollen area may leave a dent.
    • Stage II -- The limb is swollen and feels spongy. A condition called tissue fibrosis may develop and cause the limb to feel hard. Pressing on the swollen area does not leave a dent in this stage of lymphedema.
    • Stage II -- In this advanced stage, the swollen extremity may drain lymphatic fluid, in addition to the other symptoms outlined in the earlier stage.

    I work with patients to set goals," Hannah said. "One patient with advanced lymphedema said, "I have not been able to reach over my head for 20 years. I want to be able to screw in a light bulb.' We got her there."

    During the second treatment phase, treatment in the clinic is less frequent as patients are now more independent and capable of in-home maintenance, such as self-administered MLD and exercise. They also graduate from using only compression bandages to wearing a compression garment during the day. For some patients, Hannah may recommend separate day and night-time compression garments. Ideally, these are custom-made for the patient.

    "By phase two, patients should be getting back to their normal activities," she said. "If they like to make pottery or lift weights, we ramp up slowly to monitor what their systems will take."

    Support from Susan G. Komen Phoenix Affiliate

     
    For patients like Bauer and Hines, the Susan G. Komen Phoenix Affiliate grant provides customized bandages and garments, which health insurance typically does not cover. Customized garments can cost as much as $1,200. Hines, for example, has a customized sleeve ($200), a nighttime garment ($700) and a compression glove ($150) for a total cost of $1,050.

    "When you live with lymphedema, infections are very scary. I am so grateful that Susan G. Komen has allowed me to get the garments I need to stay healthy and avoid infection. I never could have afforded to buy customized bandages and garments," Hines said.

    The Susan G. Komen Phoenix Affiliate grant will help approximately 18 patients purchase customized garments and also allow YRMC to purchase educational materials on lymphedema.

    “YRMC is very committed to building awareness about lymphedema and encouraging early treatment,” said Peter Brennan, director of philanthropy at YRMC. “With the support of Susan G. Komen Phoenix Affiliate, we know we can make a difference to women struggling with lymphedema.”

    YRMC’s Lymphedema Support Group

    Hannah founded a Lymphedema Support Group to provide information and allow lymphedema patients to learn from one another. Support group members range in age from 40 to over 70, but the common bond is their commitment to managing their lymphedema.

    The approximately 20 regular attendees at the monthly Lymphedema Support Group meetings hear presentations from medical experts: genetic oncologists, dietitians and other healthcare professionals. They also spend time sharing information.“

    Those women will take a new support group member by the hand and tell her to listen to Donna and work hard,” Hannah said. “They understand what it feels like and know what needs to be done to control it.”

    Lymphedema management is a way of life for both Bauer and Hines. When asked what advice she would give breast cancer survivors in the community experiencing the early signs of lymphedema, Bauer said, “Run, don’t walk, to your doctor and get a referral to The Lymphedema Management Program at YRMC.”