Avera Medical Minute: Cancer care across Avera’s footprint

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 10:04 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Getting your medical care close to home can make those trips to the doctor much easier. Less time traveling can mean more time spent getting quality care. In tonight’s Avera Medical Minute, we hear from one patient who gets the treatment she needs without spending hours on the road.

Every few weeks Valerie Buysse is at Avera Marshall getting maintenance infusions for ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed about two years ago.

“I got diagnosed and had surgery and followed by chemo,” said Buysse.

She did six rounds of chemo. In her first session, she made a trip to Avera in Sioux Falls for treatment. Since she lives in the Marshall area, she then decided to continue getting the care there.

“I thought I would try Marshall and see what it’s like and see if I’m comfortable here, and after one time I was, so I decided just for the convenience that I would stay here,” said Buysee.

Additionally, when Valerie has her maintenance infusions every three weeks, she meets virtually with Dr. Rojas, who is in Sioux Falls.

“It’s like he is right in the room with you. He comes on the TV screen, he’s right there in front of your face, and you can see him and talk to him and ask questions and he can pull up your chart at the same time and look at you and answer questions and it’s like you’re there. The only thing you’re missing is the hug at the end,” said Buysse.

This is just an example of how the oncology team works together across the Avera footprint.

“We work closely with Avera in Sioux Falls, we have all the same protocols for all of our regimens, we utilize all the maintenance medications as well as pre-medications, all of that is the same, plus all the charting is the same, so when she sees the oncologist in Sioux Falls, all of that information can translate to our charting here in Marshall so we know exactly what is happening,” said Avera Medical Group nurse practitioner Jessica Moriarty.

Plus, there are some Sioux Falls physicians who physically travel to different regions, including Marshall, to see patients.

“We have all of those experts right at the tip of our fingers, so we do have medical oncology that comes to Marshall, but there are some cases, whether it be for bone marrow or cellular therapy that is based out of Sioux Falls, gynecologic oncology or breast cancer specialists, those are all based in Sioux Falls and then we can have our patients get that same expert opinion,” said Moriarty.

Valerie still has the option to do appointments in Sioux Falls, which she plans to do in the future, but she says staying closer to home has worked out well.

“It’s a personal preference because some people want that face-to-face and I’m torn, I do miss that, but to spend four hours on the road for a half-hour infusion just didn’t make sense to me,” said Buysse.

“Val is one of many patients that we do this similar regimen with, so we’ve proven success with that,” said Moriarty. “It’s really a compliment of keeping patients where they can be close to home, get their care close to home, deal with side effects of chemotherapy close to home, not have to worry that if they don’t feel good they have to make a trip to Sioux Falls to say I need fluids, so it’s nice to say I can go to Marshall.”

Buysse says she still has a few more months doing maintenance infusions. If you’d like to learn more about cancer services that Avera offers, just head to avera.org/medicalminute.