Community Supports Infusion Patients
“Receiving a cancer diagnosis is like free-falling into the unknown,” says Liz Corker, mother of two, finance professional, and long-time advocate for children and education.
Liz grew up in Connecticut and was living with her husband, Bob Corker, in the New York City metro area when the couple decided to move with their family to Sun Valley. The move was motivated by a desire for a better quality of life. Here they could enjoy more time with their children and more time spent Sun Valley style: skiing, hiking, mixing, mingling, and making a difference.
In May 2015, Liz’s world changed dramatically when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After her diagnosis, her time was consumed by long-distance chemotherapy treatments. For the first two months, Liz received treatment in Boise and Twin Falls. The commutes were difficult given her commitments as a mother and vice-chair of the Blaine County School District Board of Trustees. After two months of traveling for care, she transitioned her treatment to St. Luke’s Wood River. Local chemotherapy made a significant difference in her overall wellbeing. Bob could bring her lunch, her friends could visit in the chemo suite, and she grew close to members of the community she met during treatment.
At the same time, Liz was deeply supported by the St. Luke’s Wood River infusion nurses. Not only did the women administer her chemotherapy treatments, they provided the emotional support essential to her recovery. “We have a bond unlike any other,” Liz says.
The first St. Luke’s Wood River infusion room opened in 2009 adjacent to the emergency department. Community generosity made the remodel a reality. In 2010, infusion services had 65 patient visits. By 2014, Wood River staffed 1,039 infusion appointments, and in 2015 visits were up 35 percent.
While the original infusion room at St. Luke’s Wood River made it possible for patients to receive treatment close to home, it was a modest facility.
Over time, it was clear the people of the Wood River Valley deserved better. “The infusion space just didn’t stand up to the otherwise amazing St. Luke’s Wood River facility and patient experience,” Liz explains. Because this community refuses to stand idly by, the call to expand infusion services was answered with an outpouring of generosity. Nearly $1 million was raised in less than a year to build and equip an expanded Infusion Center.
“I’m constantly amazed by the compassion of the people here,” Liz says. “I always felt supported. I never felt alone.”
Thanks to community generosity, the new Center—with four infusion chairs, a comfortable waiting room, and views of the mountains—will open in June 2016 and will radically improve the patient experience. The Center will echo the natural beauty of the Wood River community by incorporating natural light and scenic views. The capacity for care will double, giving patients the option to receive care in a private suite or semi-private treatment area.
Treatments include chemotherapy for cancer patients and a variety of infused drugs to treat other chronic diseases.
“Positive physical spaces can be very healing,” Liz says. “I’m so grateful to the people who made the new Infusion Center possible. This place, because of its beautiful design and the compassion of the caregivers, will be a calm center for patients who need to feel safe and well cared for during difficult times.”
With the help of her family, caregivers, and community, and her own strength of soul, Liz’s chemotherapy will wrap up in July 2016, one month after the new Infusion Center opens. In the weeks before her last treatment, Liz has planned a family trip to Hawaii. “We’re going to Hawaii to celebrate the beauty of life and family in a magical place.”