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Howard rural chemo

Rural Chemotherapy is Changing Lives in Howard County

May 28, 2021

Cancer has touched most Americans’ lives through the death of a loved one or watching someone they love fight to live. Cancer and its treatment take a tremendous toll on the patient and family. In rural areas, the disease is even more deadly, in part because access to state-of-the-art facilities and treatments is usually only found in larger metro areas. Regional Health Services of Howard County (RHSHC) in Cresco believes they can help change this statistic for those battling cancer in their backyard. “We put in our strategic plan a goal to start bringing chemotherapy services to our facility,” said Jennalee Pedretti, RHSHC vice president of operations and Regional Health Services Foundation director. “People tend to take for granted that not everybody can drive to larger hospitals. Not everybody has a car, family to take them, or the funds to do it. That’s why it was important for us to bring that here.” After a few years of searching for a larger partner they found Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Illinois, near Chicago. 

The project needed funding to bring this world-class cancer care to Howard County, so the RHS Foundation reached out to the community. CUSB Bank, which serves the area, answered the call, making a $50,000 matching gift to help generate donations. Bank president and CFNEIA board member Scott Thomson and wife Stephanie lost their parents and Stephanie’s sister to cancer and know first-hand the benefits the service would bring to their community. To manage this matching gift, the RHS Foundation established the Rural Chemotherapy Expansion Fund, a special project fund with the Howard County Community Foundation, a CFNEIA affiliate. The Community Foundation managed campaign gifts, alleviating hospital staff time and administrative costs.

The campaign goal was quickly reached, and the Thomson-Jones Chemotherapy and Infusion Center opened in November 2020. The center utilizes telehealth services and local staff to provide patients with access to top-quality, comprehensive chemotherapy and infusion care in a comfortable space close to home.

This story is part of our 2020 Impact Report.