January 13, 2022 by Muriel Sommers
Baptist Health’s Fishermen’s Community Hospital Welcomes First Oncology Patient
A long-time resident of Marathon, William Schneider has logged quite a few miles for his medical appointments over the years. But Mr. Schneider doesn’t have to travel very far from home anymore. He became the first patient seen in the new oncology unit at Baptist Health’s Fishermen’s Community Hospital.
“We have lived in Marathon for over 20 years and I have witnessed all the changes. Before this unit was open, I had to travel an hour north to Tavernier,” says Mr. Schneider, who is pictured above with Samantha Wolfe, R.N., in the new oncology suite. “Now, I save travel time each way and, more importantly, I’m so close to home!”
The new unit at Fishermen’s Community Hospital provides services to patients that enhance and expand outpatient cancer care throughout the Middle and Lower Keys. The new hospital houses an oncology suite with three private patient rooms. The unit currently offers biotherapies, transfusions, laboratory services and hydration services and will soon offer chemotherapy. Patients will now also have access to Baptist Health’s Miami Cancer Institute resources and its unique support services programs.
“We believe every patient deserves access to the best possible care in their own community,” said Siddhartha Venkatappa, M.D, associate chief medical officer at Miami Cancer Institute. “This new site will help us provide exceptional and convenient cancer care to the residents of the Middle and Lower Keys.”
Dr. Venkatappa, who also serves as the medical director of infusion services at Baptist Health’s Keys hospitals, added, “Before, cancer patients in the area would have to drive to Mariners Hospital or to Miami to receive treatment. Now our patients can receive the care they need close to home and their support systems. Bringing these treatments to Marathon is another milestone to improved healthcare in the area.”
Fishermen’s Community Hospital has been caring for the Florida Keys community since it opened in 1962. The hospital was closed in September 2017 when Hurricane Irma caused extensive damage to much of the area. A field hospital was quickly opened to provide uninterrupted care to the community, which was then replaced with a modular facility. With the completion of the new hospital in July 2021, the 37,330-square-foot facility, completed with an on-site helipad, provides specialized services such as 24/7 emergency care with telestroke services to give stroke patients immediate access to Board-certified neurologists. It also offers inpatient beds, including two intensive care beds with 24/7 monitoring, nine emergency department beds, five additional recovery beds, diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation and laboratory services.
Baptist Health’s Miami Cancer Institute was recognized among the top three Best Hospitals for Cancer in the South Florida region and one of America’s Best Hospitals for Cancer in the categories of lung cancer surgery and colon cancer surgery by U.S. News & World Report.