BILLINGS - St. Vincent Healthcare held a ribbon cutting Tuesday morning for its newly constructed Multiple Sclerosis Infusion Center.
According to hospital officials, the new center will allow access for patients and physicians to the newest and most cutting-edge medications available through infusions. The hospital is currently serving about 500 patients and provides more than 1,000 infusions per year.
Dr. Kris French, a neurologist and MS specialist, said Tuesday afternoon that the addition of the infusion center is critical to improving care for patients.
French said the space allows for a centralized focus on patients with neurological disorders.
“Here in the infusion center, it's mostly, if not all just neurology and people with neurological disorders. So they are not in other infusion centers with other patients who are being treated with cancer or for infectious disease problems…it’s all neurological,” said French.
Monti Wetsch, a patient at St. Vincent Healthcare who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 20 years ago, said the new center is good for the Billings community.
“It’s state of the art, it's where it should be, and Billings is a great area for it. The facility itself is great, it fits the staff and it's going to be great to be able to come in and just be comfortable when you're getting your infusion and know that the technology is above and beyond,” said Wetsch.
Wetsch said she came to St. V’s for treatment ten years ago where she was introduced to Dr. French.
Three year ago, during treatment French became one of the first people in Montana to try a newly available treatment option Ocrevus. Ocrevus is given through infusion along with various other treatment options for MS patients.
“My mobility is better. I travel an awful lot with my husband. And it seems easier to get around. It doesn't make me sick. There are no aftereffects, that's a big deal, because I feel better and I feel like the drug helps more,” said Wetsch.
According to the hospital, the new infusion center is the latest completed project of it’s multi-year campaign to grow and improve access to neuroscience care. The construction was supported by the St. Vincent Foundation, philanthropic support and longtime supporters and community leaders.