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Flaget LINAC

Supporting Cutting-Edge Cancer Care Closer to Home

December 19, 2023 Posted in: Cancer Care  5 minute read time


The newest addition at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center at Flaget Memorial Hospital is targeting cancer cells quicker and with enhanced precision, giving patients better outcomes and more time with loved ones.

The Legacy Foundation of Kentuckiana, which previously had been part of CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations, provided $1.3 million to purchase a new linear accelerator (LINAC) for the cancer care center, replacing the LINAC that was purchased when the center opened in 2010.

“The new linear accelerator is truly instrumental in our ability to provide cancer care for the community we serve,” said Maggie Smith, MSN, RN, OCN, vice president of nursing and operations, Flaget Memorial Hospital. “In the last four years, the Foundations and our community have provided unbelievable support to help us expand the cancer center through Project Hope, doubling our capacity and now providing the latest technology for radiation treatment.”

Nearly half of the center’s patients receive radiation treatment, Smith said. The advanced LINAC reduces treatment time by nearly half because it can more effectively pinpoint cancer cells to deliver radiation treatment. Smith said treatments that took 30–45 minutes now take 15–25 minutes. Patients go back home sooner and have a shorter recovery time.

“Cancer care is changing,” Smith said. “We’re seeing better outcomes and more treatments available through the latest and greatest technological and medical advances.”

Smith said advanced technology is a critical part of providing cancer care in Bardstown. Patients have the choice to stay closer to home, reducing their burden with shorter distances, less travel time and more quality time at home for recovery.

“We’re not just treating patients, but we’re treating our family, friends and neighbors,” Smith said. “Providing top notch care is personal here.”

Focused on Dignity in Cancer Care

CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations funds several programs to lessen the burden cancer patients face, from providing transportation to appointments to empowering patients with wigs or cold caps that allow them to keep hair during and after chemotherapy treatments.

Emily May, oncology services manager for CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care in Lexington, knew about DigniCap, a scalp cooling system that reduces hair loss from chemotherapy treatments, but she never thought she would need it for herself.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022 when she was nine months pregnant with her second child. After giving birth, she completed 16 rounds of chemotherapy and utilized the DigniCap for peace of mind.

“I have a toddler and a newborn, so keeping some semblance of normalcy was important for me,” May said. “We weren’t sure if it was going to work because my treatment was really aggressive, but I followed a strict regimen with how to treat my hair during my chemotherapy and didn’t lose any hair. It really helped me throughout the process.”

May said she received financial support from the Foundations to cover most of the cost for her DigniCap treatment and supplies. Any patient undergoing chemotherapy through CHI Saint Joseph Health can request support from the Foundations and the social workers at the cancer care center. The team works together to find the best solution for each patient.

For patients experiencing hair loss, the Foundations also provides wigs, hats and head coverings to help them on their cancer journey. At CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center at Flaget Memorial Hospital, patients can try on different wigs and coverings in the Resource Center to find what fits them best — a reassurance during their first few chemotherapy treatments.

“Typically, at the first sign of hair loss, patients bring a trusted family member to the resource center to try on hats and wigs,” said Jennifer Fowler, a social worker at the cancer care center. “The medical team is often there to offer compliments and affirmations as patients try out their new looks or find a hairpiece similar to their own and spend time making it look just right.”

Yes, Cerv! Expands Provider Network

In 2021, grant funding from the Kentucky Women’s Cancer Screening Program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, gave a boost to Yes, Mamm!, which provides no-cost mammography screening. CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations launched another program, Yes, Cerv!, to provide free cervical cancer screenings and treatments for eligible women who are uninsured and underinsured.

Yes, Cerv! is expanding its network of providers to reach more women in Lexington and the communities served by CHI Saint Joseph Health across central and eastern Kentucky. This year, more patients will be able to access Pap smears, diagnostic and program support across central and eastern Kentucky.

Teresa Colon, BSN, RN, program coordinator, said she’s proud of the CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group physicians and advanced practice providers partnering with Yes, Cerv! to serve more patients.

“We don’t want women to have to wait to be seen,” Colon said. “We want to accommodate as many women as we can. When we started Yes, Cerv!, we only had two OB-GYN providers in Lexington, but now we can serve women across our ministry.”

If you or someone you love is faced with cancer, we know how overwhelming that can feel. But you can find peace of mind knowing that compassionate, world-class care is right here at home. Learn more about cancer care at Flaget Memorial Hospital.

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