Saturday, July 22, 2017  

Bridging People and Place into a Healing Space at Tapahannock Riverside Hospital


Kimberly Wyn Schlesinger, M.D. walked across the soft, brown wood floors of the Riverside Tappahannock Cancer Care and Infusion Center and over to the woman, sitting quietly in a reclining chair, an IV hooked into her arm.
“How are you doing today?” Schlesinger asked. “Is there anything we can get for you?”
She wasn’t holding a medical chart or even wearing a white lab coat. Just a smile, a friendly tone and an openness to talk.
When it comes to medical oncology and cancer care, utilizing the best medical science has to offer is key. But so is connecting with patients, developing relationships and delivering cancer care close to home.
Thanks to the Riverside Tappahannock Hospital’s leadership, Schlesinger and the entire clinical team, that’s just what this patient – and all other cancer patients in the region – receive.
RTH recently unveiled its newly renovated Cancer Care and Infusion Center, where patients receive chemotherapy and other treatments, and announced the arrival of Schlesinger, a full time medical oncologist who will see patients at the center and practice on the hospital’s campus in Tappahannock.
“We have heard you in how hard the struggle is in getting through cancer treatment,” Esther Desimini, Vice President and Administrator of Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, told current oncology patients at a recent open house. “We are committed to doing anything we can to make it a little easier.”
Desimini, has a special interest and an extensive background in cancer treatments. She specialized in oncology at both Johns Hopkins and Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, developing treatment and support programs for bone marrow transplant patients. She also began her own practice, Lymphedema Therapies, focused on symptom management of cancer survivors. Prior to joining Riverside, she developed a Breast Care Network, nurse navigation, and disease specific programs within an Oncology Network across the four HCA hospitals in Central Virginia.

Tappahannock’s New Cancer Care 
and Infusion Center

The Center renovation was designed with the patient in mind in order to make their treatment sessions more comfortable:

  • Private, more spacious treatment areas with storage for 
personal items and space for families and caregivers to stay  with patients during treatment. Computer stations for 
charting are also located within the space so nurses and medical staff can spend more one on one time with 
  • Exam rooms conveniently located in the center itself 
for physician visits and increased privacy during treatment if needed.
  • A centralized station that allows nurses to better monitor 
patients during treatments.
  • A nutrition center for patients and family members to make themselves at home during treatment.
  • These design elements will also help foster the relationships that Schlesinger sees as such an integral part of the healing process.

“The idea of relationships is so important to healing and it’s not just the relationship between doctor and patient, but also between the patient and nurses and staff,” she said. “Being able to connect with patients and make it possible for them to receive care closer to home reduces travel, giving them more time to do the other things they want to and more importantly, heal”

Meet Dr. Schlesinger

“Having a full time oncologist in our community is what people diagnosed with cancer need and deserve. We—not just Riverside but the community--are so fortunate that someone with her reputation is joining us,” Desimini said.
And Schlesinger feels just as fortunate.
“I believe Riverside is committed to local care and I was very intrigued about the opportunity to develop a program here,” Schlesinger said. “My vision is to help create a program that offers the best care locally.”
Schlesinger comes to Riverside from Hematology Oncology Associates of Fredericksburg. However, she’s no stranger to Riverside. From 2005 to 2014, Schlesinger practiced with the Riverside Peninsula Cancer Institute and served as the Medical Director of the Breast Cancer Program, the interim Oncology Service Line Director and the Co-Director of the Neuro-Oncology and Combined Surgical/Medical Oncology Pilot Program Clinics.
She attended medical school at the University of Pittsburgh and completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Virginia before returning to Pittsburgh for her oncology fellowship, where her areas of emphasis included breast cancer and coagulation. She is board certified in hematology, medical oncology and internal medicine.  
Schlesinger chose oncology because she “felt called to it,” she said. “In oncology, you have the opportunity to meld the best of science and molecular biology with the human aspect and human experience.”
And you have the opportunity to be part of a team working to help patients heal. 
The physician is really just the front man for the band, she said. “It’s the band that carries the team – from the nurses delivering the chemotherapy to the staff. There is so much more to the healing process than what the physician brings to the table. It truly is about the team and I’m delighted to be here and be part of it.”

Extensive Cancer Care Services In Tappahannock

Another exciting development in RTH cancer care services is the arrival of 3D mammography, coming in early 2017. This advanced imaging tool will complement the wide range of cancer related imaging, such as MRIs, to assist in diagnosis and treatment planning. Other services include guidance and assistance from a nurse navigator; patient education, lymphedema treatments and cancer rehabilitation.

To learn more about the Riverside Tappahannock Hospital’s cancer services: http://www.riversideonline.com/rth/services.cfm or call Nurse Navigator, AnnMarie Simmons, BSN, RN, OCN, at 804-443-6203. To make an appointment with Dr. Schlesinger or for information about Infusion Center services contact Nurse Manager, Rebecca Beasley, RN, BSN, CRNI, at