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Compassionate Care: Close to Home


Did you know that you can receive excellent cancer care services right here in Tillamook? There is a common misconception that local cancer patients have to drive to the valley for surgeries and treatment; in many cases that is not so. You can receive state of the art cancer care services at Tillamook Regional Medical Center, and sleep in your own bed at night.

Anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis can tell you that the implications are devastating and the associated to-do list is overwhelming. There are tests and biopsies, oncology appointments and surgeries, post-op appointments and sometimes chemotherapy and physical therapy following surgery. When a patient has to travel to the valley for these services it is time consuming, expensive, stressful, and usually involves staying away from home for the patient and the family member or loved one who is doing the driving. The drive alone can be uncomfortable and exhausting for the patient and dangerous in the winter.

“People don’t need to be traveling to the valley for things like chemotherapy, especially when they don’t feel good,” said Gina Seufert, RN, and Vice President of Physician and Clinic Services. “We want to help patients receive the care they need in their own community, so that they can stay at home and sleep in their own beds at night.”

What We Do Here
At Tillamook Regional Medical Center cancer patients can receive diagnostics, surgery and oncology care, including chemotherapy. For example, women can have state of the art digital mammography in Tillamook. When a suspicious lump is detected, breast biopsy and sentinel lymph node biopsies are performed in Tillamook. With a cancer diagnosis, surgeons Todd Pitts and Frederick Foss perform breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy) or mastectomy, right here in Tillamook. “About 80 percent of the breast cancer surgeries we perform are breast conserving surgery, or lumpectomy,” said Dr. Pitts. “The other 20 percent are mastectomy. In terms of life saving breast can surgery, we can do everything that needs to be done.”

Plastic surgeons do breast reconstruction following mastectomy, and Doctors Pitts and Foss will refer mastectomy patients to a plastic surgeon for reconstruction. They will also work with the plastic surgeon to perform tissue expanding procedures in preparation for breast reconstruction.

Dr. Gerald Gibbs works with cancer patients on a treatment plan. Dr. Gibbs is an experienced oncology specialist. Cancer patients find him compassionate, knowledgeable and available to them. He gives his patients his cell phone number and encourages them to call him if they have questions or concerns. He takes the time to explain things to his patients and is careful to make sure they understand what he is saying. His attention to detail inspires confidence. If chemotherapy is recommended, patients can receive it at Tillamook Regional Medical Center, administered by Dr. Gibbs and the highly skilled and compassionate nursing staff in Outpatient Therapy Services.

Sherah Berthelsen is a chemo therapy certified RN. She has been working with Dr. Gibbs for almost four years. “I feel like I’m making a difference for people,” she said, “this is a good fit for me. I provide the kind of care I would want my family members to receive.”Sherah is passionate about informing the public that they can receive top quality cancer care right here in Tillamook. “People don’t feel good when they’re on chemo, and the road to Portland is terrible. We can take care of them here and they can sleep in their own beds at night. Because we’re a smaller facility, the care that they receive here will be more personal than in a big hospital. In many cases we know our patients because it’s a small community. That helps people feel more comfortable.”

Radiation treatment is not available at Tillamook Regional Medical Center; but follow-up care is. When a patient has to leave the area for a particular procedure or treatment, they can most often be referred back to Tillamook providers for the next step in treatment. A recent review indicated that when local cancer patients are referred to a provider in the valley for a particular procedure, that provider will most often refer them to another provider in the valley for the next stage in treatment, and patients get caught in the cycle of driving out of town for services they could receive right here at home. If you find yourself in this situation, ask the doctor to refer you back to a Tillamook physician, so that you can receive quality cancer care in your own community, and sleep in your own bed at night.