Aspen Valley Hospital offers a comprehensive approach to breast cancer treatment | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Valley Hospital offers a comprehensive approach to breast cancer treatment


Karen Johnson, MS; Katie Powell, PT; and Nancee Dodge, FNP are part of the multidisciplinary team that supports patients through cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
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Deborah Breen, President & CEO Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation

A comprehensive approach to breast cancer treatment and recovery can be centralized right here at home. In this second installment of my two-part overview of breast cancer services available at Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH), I will detail the services that follow diagnosis and initial treatment.

Supporting AVH’s state-of-the-art diagnostic, surgical, and chemotherapy services is a team that is dedicated to patients during treatment and recovery. Cardiac and oncology rehabilitation, physical therapy, as well as counseling and nutritional services all round out the spectrum of care available. In addition, a dedicated breast health navigator provides guidance to both patients and their family members, assisting in decoding medical jargon, coordinating appointments, and helping to decipher insurance benefits.

Oncology rehabilitation services at AVH can help patients regain strength as they recover from the physical consequences that can be associated with treatment. Cardiac rehabilitation therapist Karen Johnson, MS, helps with by-products of cancer treatment such as cardiac issues caused by chemotherapy. She customizes treatments and implements cardiovascular exercises that can help build up muscle that was lost during treatment. Oncology rehab patients may choose this type of treatment through individual sessions with therapists like Karen or join group exercise classes, where current patients and survivors may come together with common shared physical and emotional journeys.

The physical therapy department at AVH also treats patients who experience lymphedema after breast surgery. This chronic condition, which causes swelling in limbs, can be common in breast cancer patients, and AVH’s team of physical therapists can help to manage — or even prevent — lymphedema.

Patients have the opportunity to receive individual nutrition counseling with the hospital’s registered dietitians. There are group cooking classes offered in The Judy and Joe Zanin Healthy Cooking Demo Kitchen, which can be a fun way to meet others and find support. These classes aim to teach patients how to balance nutritional health during and after treatment through whole, plant-based foods that are nutrition-dense and have a positive impact on overall health and healing.

When it comes to cancer care, AVH takes a team-oriented approach. Physicians, oncology-certified nurses, technicians, physical therapists, registered dietitians, breast health navigators and mental health professionals are all readily accessible and offer a full spectrum of care.“

Our patients are appreciative of the personal attention they receive here. Those that come for a season from large cancer centers are generally amazed that we can provide the same level of service in a small town setting,” says Nancee Dodge, nurse practitioner in oncology.

Moving forward, AVH will continue to develop and strengthen services across the board. Plans include an enlarged chemotherapy/infusion suite and a dedicated center for women’s imaging with stereotactic breast biopsy capabilities. These improvements are part of the construction and renovation project currently underway that is truly transforming how healthcare is delivered in our community.


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