Treatment on wheels

BRENT ADDLEMAN Managing Editor
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Tuesday morning at the Somervell County Expo Center for Moncrief Cancer Institute's Mobile Cancer Survivor Clinic. Members of the community, Glen Rose Medical Center, Moncrief Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and the Glen Rose/Somervell County Chamber of Commerce were on hand for the event. The unit will visit Glen Rose twice monthly.

What has 18 wheels and can have you living a better lifestyle as a cancer patient?

The answer is Moncrief Cancer Institute’s Mobile Cancer Survivor Clinic.

The mobile unit, which is a $1.1 million custom-built 18-wheeler, delivers one-on-one exercise sessions, nutrition counseling, cancer screenings and high-tech telemedicine to cancer patients and survivors in rural counties in North Texas, including Somervell County.

The unit was on display Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Somervell County Expo Center. The event featured cancer survivors, the mobile unit’s staff, staff from Glen Rose Medical Center, the American Cancer Society and members from the Glen Rose/Somervell County Chamber of Commerce and the community.

The mobile unit will travel through nine rural North Texas counties to provide medical care to an estimated 15,000 uninsured and underserved cancer survivors, according to Moncrief Cancer Institute.

The clinic, which is fully staffed, will offer nutrition counseling, colon cancer screenings, private exam rooms, exercise facilities for personalized training and high-speed telemedicine links to psychologists, genetic counselors and other cancer experts. The program is open to residents in need of medical care who are uninsured and don’t have access to the cancer treatment programs they need, such as nutrition and exercise.

Somervell County Judge Danny Chambers praised the organizations involved in this effort.

“It is going to offer services to those who can’t get out to it and afford it,” Chambers said. “I want to thank Ray (Reynolds), the hospital, the hospital board, the district board and Moncrief for making this possible.”

Ray Reynolds, chief executive officer of Glen Rose Medical Center, shared Chambers’ sentiments about the opportunity.

“On behalf of Glen Rose Medical Center, I would like to welcome Moncrief Cancer Institute to our community,” Reynolds said. “We are pleased that you are here, that you are partnering with us and continue to partner with us. You will help us better meet the needs of our patients here in Glen Rose.”

For cancer survivor Karen Schrepel of Pecan Plantation, the mobile unit is a blessing to local patients battling cancer.

“It is awesome,” Schrepel said of the mobile unit. “There is such a need for this to come out to the smaller communities like Granbury and Glen Rose, and provide the services that are listed on the side of the vehicle.

“It is a beautiful facility. They have put in a lot of trouble designing it for the needs they wanted.”

Schrepel was in awe of the thought that went into making the mobile unit a complete tool in the treatment of patients.

“It encompasses all of the treatment,” Schrepel said. “They are doing screening, they have the exam rooms. They have the ability to communicate through the computer right through to the main officers or their doctor’s offices.”

The exercise program was an aspect of the mobile unit Schrepel just completed and highly recommends.

“I just completed a 12-week program,” Schrepel said. “It encompasses it all, and it comes to you. The services are to no cost to the people coming. It is a great program.

“My oncologist suggested I come to Moncrief Cancer Institute for the 12-week program. I took part in all aspects of it, everything from meeting with the nutritionist and getting good, sound guidance in some areas of my nutrition and eating habits that I didn’t have. I got involved in the exercise program and completed the 12-week program there.”

While the mobile unit is a unique tool in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients, for Schrepel there is one thing everyone should do.

“I want to encourage people to get early screenings,” Schrepel said. “I was diagnosed by Dr. Schmidt’s physician’s assistant with melanoma cancer. If it hadn’t been for her … waiting another six months I probably wouldn’t be standing here today. Early screening is definitely important.”

Brent Addleman is managing editor of the Glen Rose Reporter. He can be reached at 254-897-2282 or email to brent.addleman@theglenrosereporter.com. Follow him on Twitter: @GRR_Editor.