Baptist Health Floyd now has a designated oncology unit, which includes 15 rooms on 3A. No longer are oncology patients spread throughout the hospital. Since September, they have been in a dedicated area with a trained staff.
Tasha Simpson, BSN, RN, OCN, is the new manager of the oncology unit at the hospital. She worked at the Baptist Health Floyd Cancer Center for six years before returning to the hospital in August to head up the oncology unit.
She is excited about her new role and said the new unit will be “very beneficial. It used to be spread out wherever and a charge nurse would take control of giving patients their chemotherapy.”
Simpson said the goal now is to get a specific group of staff educated and trained in administering chemotherapy on a regular basis. “I think chemo is scary when you don’t know much about it. But once you gain that confidence, it will go a lot smoother,” she said.
While the majority of patients receive their treatment at the Cancer Center, some have to come to the hospital if they get a more intense dose or if they have complications.
“We provide supportive care for those patients,” Simpson said. “We may not necessarily do their chemo, but if they are neutropenic or get some kind of infection in between chemo treatments to the point where they need to be hospitalized, those patients would come to us.”
Christy Flynn, RN, BSN, MSHA, director of the oncology unit, said having an area dedicated to oncology is a big step for the hospital.
“Implementing an oncology specific in-patient unit allows for subject matter experts to provide evidenced-based and quality care for this particular population of patients,” she said. “This is also part of our overall goal for the oncology service line … and provide great collaboration between the nursing staff and oncologists.” She is also excited about Simpson taking on the role as manager of the unit.
“Tasha brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the oncology unit with her background in leadership and infusion therapy,” Flynn said. “She has been a wonderful addition to the team.”
Simpson said some nurses from the Cancer Center have also worked on the oncology unit to help staff.
“That has been nice, and I have been talking to the (Cancer Center) manager about sending our nurses over there so we can all be cross-trained. That way our staff can be trained on doing chemo on a daily basis and what that looks like,” she said. “It really takes doing it more frequently to get comfortable in it.”
Simpson has been a Baptist Health employee for 12 years, splitting her time between the Cancer Center and hospital. She said she has a passion for the oncology care.
“I think when I started my nursing career I had no idea what I wanted to focus on. Just being here sparked a desire to work with oncology patients,” she said. “One of the first chemo patients I had was my age and he had just been diagnosed with leukemia. We treated him very aggressively in the hospital. He was here for a long time. I became very close to him and his family and that was my pivotal moment when I decided oncology is my thing.”
That patient has been cancer free for more than five years.