For more than eight years, Dr. Manish Dhawan and his medical staff have been traveling 30 minutes from Shreveport to Minden to provide care for local residents battling cancer.
"We were renting an office and only able to come one day a week," Dhawan said. "We could only limit chemotherapy to certain hours of that day and we had to mix the chemo in Shreveport and bring it over with us."
Such care brought unnecessary and costly risk factors, and more noticeably it brought a lessened quality of care for local patients.
Such is no longer the case.
The Minden Cancer Center opened about a month ago with a promise of providing the best possible care for cancer patients in Minden and the surrounding communities.
"We had a strong desire to bring this community something that was not available," Dhawan said. "There is no sense in today's health model for physicians not to integrate themselves into the local health system. We were working toward a goal of having a presence here to enable better care throughout the week that is centralized around the local hospital."
The Minden Cancer Center, which is an offshoot of Highland Clinic, is located alongside Interstate 20 at 10600 Industrial Drive. A community-wide open house and ribbon cutting is slated for Wednesday, March 19. The ribbon cutting will be held at 1:30 p.m. The open house runs from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
With a motto of "Quality Cancer Care Near You," the Minden Cancer Center is a state-of-the-art 6,200 square foot facility with all of the medical technology to diagnose and treat all forms of adult cancer.
"We can provide five day infusions, five day chemotherapy care and all of your supportive care," Dhawan said. "Everything we were doing in Shreveport we will do in this facility. Care that cannot be carried out in an outpatient setting can be carried to the hospital [Minden Medical Center]."
As for that supportive care, the patients have a clinic full of advocates. However, one in particular will be there above all others. Nurse Practitioner Kelly Warren served as an RN for 30 years in various acute care settings. She will see all patients for their continuative care.
"This role of providing care for patients is so rewarding," Warren said. "I am their cheerleader. There is an emotional component to patients receiving chemo. They need reassurance and quality care and coordination of that care. They need a knowledgeable staff, and they need to know they are going to have A, B, C done in a cost effective manner that is cognizant of their time."
Understanding time limitations as well as travel limitations is another reason why the doctor chose to locate in Minden rather than just coming one day a week.
"Oncology is not like a surgeon where the procedure is done and over," Dhawan said. "Oncology requires a lot of follow-up care that is not practical for travel. It is not practical to travel to Shreveport just for IV fluids after chemo. And coordinating that through the emergency room is very expensive and stressful for the patient and their family."
Other local physicians were pleased to learn of the new center.
"Dr. Manish Dhawan has been involved in the care of many of my patients in this area for the last several years," Dr. G. Scott Phillips said. "He is very accessible to my patients. He has always gotten high marks with my patients."
Dr. Joe Bolger, another Minden physician, echoed those comments.
"I have referred to Dr. Dhawan for almost five years now," Bolger said. "He has always been very cooperative and encouraging. He handles everything from diagnosis forward and does a nice job of keeping me updated."
"Dr. Dhawan is just delightful," Phyllis Hicks, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 said. "He will answer any questions you might have and if you call the office you can always speak to someone. I believe communication is very important between patient and physician. It is a must when battling cancer."
Communication is key, Dhawan said.
"This is a game changer for this community," he said. "And it is an affair of love for us. It is so very important that this community knows we pride our practice on the patient's ability to have access to the physician, his abilities, efficiency of staff and our organizational capabilities."