Denny Sipe used to come to wearing a funny hat and a big smile on his face.
As doctors spent years trying to treat a tumor, Sipe would make suggestions on how the hospital could improve the infusion center for both its patients and nurses. But the biggest improvement, Sipe would tell the doctors, would be more comfortable chairs for the patients.
“He was a real character and had a great sense of humor,” said Dr. G Alan Yeasted, the chief medical doctor at St. Clair.
Denny and Carol Sipe of Collier Township made a large donation to the hospital last year in hopes that it would build a more modern and spacious center. Denny Sipe died in January, but his wife, Carol, and son, Darin, were on hand with dozens of hospital workers Thursday morning to open the sprawling new Sipe Infusion Center.
St. Clair Hospital President Jim Collins said the Sipe family has left behind a legacy that will help many patients in the future.
“People come to the hospital to get better,” Collins said. “But it didn’t turn out that way. (The Sipes) made us better.”
The $1 million center located on the third floor has 11 comfortable leather recliners and privacy windows that can be opened for patients to chat while receiving treatment. There are also four beds with private rooms for patients who need more invasive treatment.
Rosemary Miller, who manages the center, said the previous facility was cramped and made it difficult for the nurses to monitor all of the patients. The new center—which used to be a physical therapy area—offers better visibility to each patient in a more comforting environment.
“The field has grown and developed tremendously,” Miller said. “The treatments have become better and the survival rate has (improved) exponentially over the past 20 years.”
Miller said the center specializes in blood transfusions, chemotherapy, hydration and antibiotics. Some patients spend up to eight hours in the chair, so their comfort is paramount.
That’s what Denny Sipe used to stress while receiving treatment. His doctor, Yeasted, who also became a close friend, said Sipe would suggest improvements with a few more whispered in his ear by the nurses. Yeasted said the nurses and doctors were fond of Sipe and his appreciation for their work.
“People all around the hospital knew him,” Yeasted said.
That is somewhat comforting to his son, Darin. He said the family is pleased to know the new facility will help others in need.
“You know it’s going to help other people,” Darin Sipe said. “It seems like it will make things easier for everyone. It’s neat to see everything that’s needed right here.”
The infusion center officially opens Friday morning.