N.C. – Feb. 28, 2018– After being diagnosed with advanced
stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma of the brain and adrenal glands last November,
Matthew Day, of Catawba, never thought a different illness would put his life
35, developed bacterial meningitis last month as a result of his compromised
immune system from cancer and his therapy treatments. He was admitted to the
Oncology Intensive Care Unit (OICU) at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s
Comprehensive Cancer Center—the only unit of its kind in the state and one of
the few in the country.
days of specialized treatment in the OICU removed the threat of the potentially
fatal infection, allowing Day to once again concentrate on his fight against
his lymphoma, which involves chemotherapy treatment for 22 hours a day for five
straight days every three weeks.
what should have been the scariest time of my life, I felt such comfort and
trust,” Day said. “The physicians, nurses, therapists, everyone on that unit
treated me special, like I was their only patient, and I always felt I was safe
with them. They truly saved me.”
12-bed OICU, which opened in January 2017, is dedicated to the treatment of
adult patients with cancer and blood disorders requiring critical care. While
patients with cancer make up the majority, this dedicated unit also provides expert
care for malignant and non-malignant bleeding disorders.
“Cancer and its therapies encumber the immune system
resulting in the body not always being able to protect itself from getting an
infection,” said Peter
Miller, M.D., assistant professor of hematology and
critical care at Wake Forest Baptist. “That’s where an oncology ICU steps in.
For a severely ill cancer patient to receive optimal care it requires
multidisciplinary expertise in hematology, oncology and critical care— and that
concentrated proficiency is what defines an oncology ICU and sets it apart.”
is associate medical director of the OICU and one of the few physicians in the
nation board-certified in both hematology and critical care.
Forest Baptist’s OICU employs a team approach to patient care, combining the
skills and experience of physicians, nurses and pharmacists trained in critical
care, hematology and oncology. The interdisciplinary team members meet regularly
to evaluate each patient’s condition and treatment options, which they present
to the patient and family members.
The custom-designed unit promotes a peaceful environment with
its large windows, rocking chairs and lounge areas. Each patient
room has convertible furniture that can be used as a bed by family members. The
unit offers laundry and shower facilities for visitors along with a serenity
room, a dedicated space for families to have privacy.
“With a year under our belt now, it’s easy to see how valuable
and meaningful this unit is to patients,” Miller said. “We’ve been
able to provide patients with opportunities to reach meaningful milestones,
such as wedding anniversaries and birthdays, improve quality of life and offer
dedicated support to patients and family members.”
Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of just three National
Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the state and one
of 46 in the country. It has held this designation continuously since 1990.