Heat the Seats campaign underway, committee wants to bring heated recliners to cancer center in El Dorado

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Arkansas (07/05/19) — Five patients of the Central Arkansas Radiation Institute are leading the Heat the Seats Campaign in El Dorado.

Alexandra Bell, Dr. Jim Sheppard, Joann Skinner, Beth Compton and Kay Harden have all received treatment at CARTI for different types of cancers.

Now, the group is banding together to purchase 28 heated recliners. The recliners will offer patients a warm place to sit while they receive chemotherapy.

Left: Treatment chairs at the CARTI in El Dorado
(only offers recline option)
Right: Treatment chairs at the CARTI in Little Rock
(offers heated recline)

“I say these chairs are like a Ford. Those chairs are like a cadillac,” Dr. Jim Sheppard said.

Dr. Sheppard has been a family physician in El Dorado for more than 37 years. He was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma cancer in 2017.

He completed four chemotherapy treatments and 21 radiation treatments. Dr. Sheppard received his treatments at the CARTI facility in Little Rock, which offers the heated recliners to its patients.

“I would have the heater on high and I would be under a blanket and I would still be cold,” he said. “The patients that are here [El Dorado] get the blanket but they don’t get the heated seat.”

Chemotherapy takes a lot out of patients, stripping them of their energy and their warmth. Most infusions last 2-5 hours and some patients receive treatments multiple times a week.

“That’s a long time sitting in a chair,” Dr. Sheppard said. “This chair is comfortable but after four hours, it’s probably not the greatest.”

The heated recliners will offer more than four heating options for its patients. The chairs will also offer massage therapy in various positions.

“It’s world-class care without having to go a distance to get to it,” Alexandra Bell said.

Bell is also a member of the committee but she didn’t receive chemotherapy or radiation treatments. She saw the benefit and felt other people in El Dorado and surrounding areas should have it.

“We all know someone who has gone through treatment or is going through treatment at the moment or likely to be receiving a diagnosis in the future,” Bell said.

Dr. Balagopian Nair, CARTI’s chief medical director, began seeing patients in 1998. In the last year, CARTI has served more than 1,600 patients from south Arkansas and north Louisiana.

With help from his medical team, more than 100 cancer patients are served at CARTI in El Dorado every Tuesday.

“We feel entrusted to provide our neighbors who are living in smaller, often rural, communities where access to cancer care is lacking,” Dr. Nair said.

The committee’s goal is to raise $210,000. So far, they’e raised $103,776. While that’s enough to purchase some of the recliners, the group would like to purchase all of them at once.

If you would like to donate, visit this website. Select “CARTI El Dorado” in the drop down list. You can also call the CARTI foundation at 501-296-3406.

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