East Texas nurses to train on specific aspects of caring for kids with cancer

Training will allow families to avoid unnecessary trips to Dallas
“We are training our nurses at our Longview and Tyler facilities that they can access those ports on those kids to save the parents who drive to Dallas."
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 6:44 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2022 at 7:07 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - For years, children fighting cancer have faced long trips to Dallas to receive specialized care that can’t be found in East Texas. But a new partnership will soon help the parents save time and money by training some East Texas nurses on certain aspects of care for kids with cancer.

“This has been an ongoing fight and battle and almost a crusade to get this done,” said Heather Rucker, founder of The Gold Network of East Texas. “More and more children in East Texas are needing this treatment. So it’s not that rare.”

Rucker said families have faced challenges at local emergency rooms due to a lack of training and resources specific to kids with cancer.

“They require really specialized care because they are accessed by their ports,” Rucker said. “Any fever that they spike has to be treated because they have a port. It is technically a foreign body. So that fever, we can’t just assume that they have a cold or a virus. It could be their body having an infection reaction to their port itself.”

She said more often than not, families are driving straight to Dallas, something that will soon change as a result of training organized by the Gold Network and Hospitality Health ER in Tyler and Longview, and announced Tuesday night at the Gold Network’s annual kickoff in downtown Tyler.

“We are training our nurses at our Longview and Tyler facilities so that they can access those ports on those kids to save the parents who drive to Dallas,” said Starla Bickerstaff, Marketing Director for Hospitality Health ER. “If we can get them what they need here and send them back home, that is what our goal is.”

The first round of training is set to happen Thursday and will be conducted by healthcare workers from Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Hospitality Health ER locations in Tyler and Longview will then always be staffed with someone trained to care for kids with cancer, Bickerstaff said.

“We’ve got a dummy with a port the size the children have,” Bickerstaff said. “So they’re going to be able to practice on those ports, keep those continuing education hours up, keep their training up, and keep their skill level up.”

Both Rucker and Bickerstaff say it’s an effort that will help make things easier on families and kids already dealing with so much.

“We’re not going to let the status quo just be good enough,” Rucker said. “These kids deserve more. They need to have good care.”