Advancing cancer care

6/26/2014

Advancing cancer care

Advancing cancer care

By KELTON BROOKS

kbrooks@gctelegram.com

Finney County may soon be home to one of the most advanced cancer care centers in the state. St. Catherine Hospital and Central Care Cancer Center have announced a combined effort to build a $10 million expansion to the existing cancer center located on the St. Catherine Hospital campus.

"When this is completed, it will be one of the most advanced cancer centers throughout Kansas," said Shawna Deal, community relations coordinator with St. Catherine.

The joint venture between Centura Health/St. Catherine Hospital and Central Care Cancer Center will be named Heartland Oncology LLC, and takes effect July 1. St. Catherine will own 51 percent of Heartland Oncology and Central Care Cancer Center will own 49 percent. Heartland Oncology will be managed by a joint board that includes members from each entity.

Becky Troyer, who will become the director of Heartland Oncology, said the expansion is a complete collaborative relationship between the two entities and deemed it a win-win situation.

"Being able to elevate the oncology setting in western Kansas is a very exciting venture," Troyer said. "We're pleased to be here and to be able to provide service to the community."

St. Catherine officials are still meeting with architects to determine the details, but the construction of the planned 20,000 square-foot multi-million dollar expansion is expected to begin in the fall.

"When you bring two organizations that practice medicine in rural settings and have similar values and missions, we thought it was an outstanding opportunity to pursue," said Marcia Stephenson, director of public relations with Central Care. "Hospitals tend to be the center of the community, and we needed the wonderful relationship with St. Catherine in the community to add resources."

The Cancer Center, which is located on the south side of the St. Catherine campus, will expand out, then upward, on the west side of the Cancer Care Center's present building, making it a two-story facility.

"To me it's very exciting because we'll be able to provide services that we haven't been able to provide before, and it gives us more resources to use," said Bryan Kruleski, manager of radiation oncology with Central Care.

Kruleski has been with St. Catherine Hospital since 2001, but recently switched to Central Care this past month.

Central Care in Garden City is a medical practice center to treat cancer patients. Central Care has 13 different facilities, two in Missouri and 11 in Kansas. Services offered in the Garden City clinic include chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

As part of the expansion plans, Central Care plans to open centers in Dodge City and Liberal. Meanwhile, Heartland Oncology will operate the clinic in Great Bend.

The expansion will bring online new and more advanced equipment, including a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan.

Previously, the hospital had a mobile unit PET scan that would set up in the cancer center's parking lot every Friday. They could schedule 10 patients at a time, Kruelski explained. If there were more, those individuals would have to go to Great Bend for the scan. With a dedicated unit in an expanded facility, however, the service will be available daily in the community.

Another piece of new equipment will include a Linear Accelerator, or TrueBeam, which Kruleski describes as the latest and greatest in cancer treatment equipment. The TrueBeam can both image tumors with high precision and deliver high energy radiation treatment in a way that minimizes the amount of radiation delivered to healthy tissue.

"Having these new pieces of equipment will allow us to have improved localization of tumors and improved accuracy," he said. "The option to have radio surgery techniques that we never had available is significant for patients."

Stephenson said in the past, you could locate a tumor the size of a fist or end of a pinky, but previous machines didn't discover smaller tumors. With a TrueBeam system, doctors can zoom to sub-millimeter levels to find a small tumor, and the equipment gives them the ability to hit it with fine precision, she said.

"Radiation or some form of treatment is not always comfortable and pleasant, but teaming with St. Catherine, there are many benefits we can use to meet the needs of a number of patients," Stephenson said.

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