Kat Burkhalter said she was fortunate to get her cancer care in Tomah. To mark the completion of her chemotherapy at Tomah Memorial Hospital last month, the Tomah woman rang a bell, something she wanted other cancer patients to experience at the newly constructed Tomah Health.
“My mom went and bought a bell at Walmart for me to ring because there wasn’t one at Tomah Memorial Hospital,” Burkhalter recalled following her cancer treatment Sept. 9. “Ringing the bell was really a big step into moving past treatment and to recovery and I wanted other people to have that too,” said Burkhalter, who was the first to ring a newly installed bell at Tomah Health Oct. 10.
Burkhalter and her husband Roy donated the bell along with a plaque that reads, “Ring this bell three times well to celebrate this day. This course is run, my treatment is done, now I am on my way. Kat & Roy Burkhalter.”
Bell-ringing ceremonies marking the end of cancer treatment are now widespread at health care facilities across the country, something that officials say for patients, families and caregivers are very emotional and cathartic.
“It’s about hope that tomorrow is going to be better,” Burkhalter said. “Ending treatment and starting recovery, it’s that next step.”
Tomah Health Infusion and Pulmonary Services Director Bev Niebuhr, BSN, RN, said the bell donation is greatly appreciated and a great addition to the Infusion Services Dept. “This was just like icing on the cake for our department,” said Niebuhr. “Now all of our patients get to ring that bell on the day that they complete their treatment.”
Niebuhr said she has had many inquiries from patients interested in getting their cancer treatment at Tomah Health since the new facility opened Oct. 2.
“Actually I have had five new referrals and three others wanting a tour,” Niebuhr said of the facility, which grew from just two rooms at Tomah Memorial to an entire department at Tomah Health complete with nine treatment rooms, heated massage chairs and state of the art infusion equipment.
“We now have a department that is all together – it’s quiet and just having them (patients) all together and in one area, it’s just awesome,” Niebuhr said.
Burkhalter agreed that the new facility is a great addition to the community and for patients needing such services.
“It’s so nice to be right here local, especially on the days when you’re not feeling well and don’t feel like traveling 45 minutes to LaCrosse,” Burkhalter said. “Being right here in town was a big help for all of us including my family who was taking care of me.”
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