CHRISTUS St. Vincent - LiveWell

Spring 2017

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Stepping into CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center's reception area for the first time, you might be caught off guard by its energy. You could imagine that the atmosphere might be somber but instead, you find a surprisingly lively scene: Traffic steadily flowing into and out of a crowded but comfortable room. Patients and families happily chatting. Cheerful receptionists responding to an almost continuous stream of questions and calls. Immediately you become aware of just how busy this place is and, more profoundly, just how many people in Northern New Mexico are fighting cancer. " We see from 60 to 120 patients per day," says Nicole McKinney, a practice administrator working with CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center. "They are going through a very difficult experience, and we do our best to keep the energ y positive and everything moving quickly." This is where the center's 35 medical oncolog y suite volunteers step in. Working a morning or afternoon one or more days per week, volunteers provide patients receiving infusion treatments with small comforts such as warm blankets, pillows, drinks and snacks — often paired with friendly conversation and support, as well. "I admire the nurses," says Juanita CdeBaca, who has volunteered with the center for one year. "They work so hard, and I'm happy I can help them. While they're administering medication and taking care of patients, I can walk around and help make people a little more comfortable." You can see that the comfort Juanita provides goes beyond meeting physical needs when a familiar patient playfully asks her for a margarita. "Sometimes I like to put a little 'vodka' in the ginger ale," Juanita jokes. "Of course, it's really just cranberry juice. We just like to have a little fun." Juanita works Tuesday mornings with Bob Dufek, a fellow volunteer who started working at Freya Diamond, CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center volunteer HELPERS WITH Heart st | Spring 2017 BE WELL 6

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