Treatment center  provides specialty care |

Treatment center  provides specialty care

Grass Valley resident Lydia Crow, 75, has two families — her own and the one she discovered at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s Ambulatory Treatment Center (ATC).

“They’re like my family,” she said of the center’s staff. “They’re wonderful. They’re as busy as all get-out, and they still take time for you.”

Crow knows the staff well, having visited the center four consecutive days a month for the past five years. She has myasthenia gravis, known officially as a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that leaves her muscles weak. With this condition, a person’s own immune system prevents the normal impulses controlling muscle contraction from working.

At the ATC, Crow gets an infusion of medicine four hours daily over each four-day period, and this helps her function, along with assistance she gets from her supportive biological family.

“It saves my life, having this center here in Grass Valley,” she said. “Otherwise I’d have to be making the drive to Sacramento every month.”

Although she has a primary physician in Grass Valley, a specialist at UC Davis Medical Center oversees her autoimmune disease.

Nearly 400 patients use the local center every month, according to Lauren Swinney, RN, the ATC’s director. About one-third are patients from the Sierra Nevada Community Cancer Center who need ongoing chemotherapy. However, many of the patients are under the care of specialists in other cities and would otherwise have to travel to get daily or periodic treatment.

The center provides chemotherapy, blood component therapy and intravenous (IV) therapy, Swinney explained. Nurses at the ATC are also trained in insertion and maintaining specialized IV lines, such as the PICC line.

PICC stands for peripherally inserted central catheter, a small tube inserted (usually in the upper arm) through a peripheral vein and run to a central vein near the heart. Access to the larger vein allows for effective distribution of IV antibiotics or other therapies, Swinney said. This procedure is especially effective for patients who might need daily treatment for many weeks.

Kathy Perkins, RN, is the ATC charge nurse.

“From a nursing point of view, we’re happy because we really get to know our patients well and their families,” she said. “That’s very satisfying for a nurse.”

Staff nurse Laurie Ells, RN, said patients range in age from seniors to children, and treatments may last from 30 minutes to eight hours.

“We have handled labs, transfusions and treatments for patients that have cancer and whose family lives here, although they were being treated in other facilities outside of the area,” she noted.

The ATC is located on the second floor of the hospital’s Outpatient Center and consists of seven “chairs” and a bed.

“There’s a nurse within 10 feet of a patient at all times,” Perkins said.

“The ATC provides a wonderful service,” Swinney said. “Those nurses have a heart for taking care of these patients and making them feel comfortable.”

For information about the ATC, or SNMH, visit

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.

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