Inside Tri-Cities Cancer Center's new wing

With much fanfare, the Tri-Cities Cancer Center opened its new wing earlier this month. I was one of the first to see the new area when I received chemotherapy nearly three weeks ago.

Let me say this: It's a thing a beauty and a great addition to the Tri-Cities' medical facilities. Not unlike the Tri-Cities Convention Center, the new wing of the cancer center should be considered a gem in our community - and a necessity.

To those who aren't waging a battle against cancer, the new wing might appear to be a bit excessive. Believe me; it isn't.

Walk into the lobby area of Columbia Basin Hematology & Oncology, which occupies the new wing, you are greeted with a spacious waiting room. In the old CBHO office, there was one line for check-in, and it was near the door. It wasn't unusual for the line to snake through the waiting room or out the door into the hallway. Now, there are four stations, providing faster check-in for cancer patients.

On one side of the wing are the examination rooms and doctors' offices, complete with the latest computer technology so exams can go more quickly and efficiently. Though not spacious, they are very functional and serve their purpose.

On the other side is the chemo room. A vaulted ceiling that rises perhaps 40 feet allows the Tri-Cities' famous sunshine to provide natural, calming light. Each chemo patient has a private room, which includes a comfortable chair and a TV. Both are important because chemo can take hours. My first chemo took 12 hours, and the rest have taken no fewer than six. If you're going to sit there for that long having toxic chemicals pumped into your chest or arm, you might as well be comfortable.

Each oncology nurse has her own station, helping them stay organized. CBHO employs about 30 people, so having space is very important, especially when patients' lives depend on every one of them.

One nice extra is a beverage station, which includes coffee and soda dispensers. This is great for patients and family members alike.

The new wing for the Tri-Cities Cancer Center is something patients can be thankful for - and our community can be proud of.