Published on February 19, 2019

Cancer Center Installs 23 New Chemotherapy Chairs

Enhanced chairs with heat and massage features offer greater comfort for patients

Feb. 19, 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine – Deb Bowden and her team dreamed of one day replacing the chemotherapy chairs patients have used since the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care (HACCC) opened in July 2007. Finding funds to replace them with a model that offered enhanced features for greater patient comfort was a challenge – until the community stepped in with support.

Bowden, administrative director of Oncology Services at MaineGeneral, said the first step toward accomplishing that dream was taken by members of the Augusta Country Club Women’s Golf Association (ACCWGA), whose charity golf tournament raised $23,500 over two years to kick start a community fundraising campaign that raised $115,367 to purchase 23 new chairs with heat and massage features. The chairs were delivered and installed in the early-morning hours of Feb. 19 to be ready when the first patients arrived at 7:30 a.m. for treatment.

In addition to the ACCWGA gift, the project was funded by $16,689 raised through MaineGeneral’s spring fundraiser, Farms, Forks & Friends, in April 2018. In October 2018 the community again came together during the 15th Annual Walk for Hope to raise more than $172,000 to help support purchase of the chairs. The Walk brought together more than 1,000 community members, many of whom sat in the former chemotherapy chairs for their cancer treatments.

The new chairs are patient-tested-and-approved with built-in heat and massage, power recline, footrest, double side tables and sides that opens 180 degrees for easy patient transfers.

Sue Hanna, an ACCWGA member who also belongs to MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Auxiliary and the cancer center’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, was instrumental in the association’s work to raise money for the new chairs. Bowden said the effort was deeply personal for Hanna as her mother received treatment at the center.

“Sue’s golf club was planning a fundraiser and the members were considering ways in which proceeds from the event could benefit the community. We shared our goal of replacing our chemo chairs and mentioned that it would take a lot of money – and Sue jumped right on it! So the club’s efforts really kicked off the project.”

Bowden said the former chemotherapy chairs have served the center’s patients well and have been very durable. In fact, they will be repurposed at the Thayer Center for Health’s Infusion Clinic in Waterville. She noted that the new chairs will offer a greater level of comfort for patients thanks to innovations in chair design and technology.

“The new chairs offer heat and massage options, which are a really big deal for someone who has to sit a chair for one to eight hours while they receive chemotherapy treatment,” she said. “When I think of the people who will sit in these chairs receiving treatment, I also think of the different community members who, through their contributions of money to this project, are symbolically embracing these patients.”

Eric Klein, vice president of TSK Products, with locations in New Jersey, New York and California, was on site to help with the chair installation. He echoed Bowden's comments about how the new chairs will positively impact patients.

“Our company has worked with Champion Manufacturing to bring safer, more comfortable recliners and oncology seating to cancer centers throughout the country,” he said. “With this purchase of these power recliners, the HACCC joins a select number of cancer centers that have seen the future of infusion treatment and have invested in patient satisfaction.”

Klein said HACCC nurses, administrators, patients and family members conducted an exhaustive evaluation of possible chairs, deciding which recliner model and features would produce the best response from both patients and staff.

“Patients fell in love with the heat integrated into the seat and back. Both patients and staff selected the power recline function over the manual push-back models to give patients more independence while eliminating lifting for staff,” Klein said.

Bowden added that Oncology Services Manager Kim Smith spearheaded the patient pilot with Klein “to ensure these were the right chairs with the right features for our patients’ comfort, but also to ensure they were staff-approved for patient safety to be maintained at all times.”

Learn more about the HACCC’s oncology services, here.