‘A re­mark­able day’

Union Hos­pi­tal opens Ra­di­a­tion On­col­ogy Cen­ter

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By BRIANNA SHEA

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— Union Hos­pi­tal and the Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem cel­e­brated the open­ing of the new down­town Ra­di­a­tion On­col­ogy Cen­ter this week, with of­fi­cials prais­ing the fa­cil­ity for the lo­cal care it will bring to county res­i­dents.

“We’re ex­cited, we’ve waited quite a while for this,” said Dr. Richard Szumel, Union Hos­pi­tal Pres­i­dent and CEO, prior to the

ELKTON

Mon­day night rib­bon cut­ting.

Look­ing around at the stand­ing-room-only at­ten­dance on Mon­day night, it would seem the county com­mu­nity shares Szumel’s en­thu­si­asm.

The cen­ter is a re­sult of the on­go­ing part­ner­ship be­tween Union Hos­pi­tal and the Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem, and will of­fer res­i­dents in the county and sur­round­ing ar­eas on­col­ogy ra­di­ol­ogy treat­ments, among other ser­vices. Work on the $9 mil­lion project be­gan ear­lier this year and the cen­ter of­fi­cially opened on

Nov. 1. Since its open­ing, 13 pa­tients have been treated, said Erika Maynor, se­nior di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions at the Univer­sity of Mary­land School of Medicine’s ra­di­a­tion on­col­ogy depart­ment.

Union Hos­pi­tal pa­tients won’t have to go far for the state-of-the-art care, as the new cen­ter is lo­cated at 152 Rail­road Ave., where the Med­i­cal Adult Day Ser­vices was pre­vi­ously lo­cated. That fa­cil­ity has been re­lo­cated to a newly ren­o­vated space in South­field Park Cen­ter near Red­ner’s off Route 213, south of town.

The new fa­cil­ity is so im­por­tant to the care of county res­i­dents, be­cause Ce­cil County con­tin­ues to have one of the high­est rates of can­cer in the state, Szumel noted dur­ing the cer­e­mony, adding that though sev­eral ef­forts have been able to re­duce the num­ber of can­cer in­ci­dents and deaths, “we still have a lot of work to do.”

“Let our new pe­di­atric wing in the hos­pi­tal, known as Ne­mours duPont Pe­di­atrics at Union Hos­pi­tal, and this ab­so­lutely won­der­ful ra­di­a­tion on­col­ogy cen­ter, known as Univer­sity of Mary­land Ra­di­a­tion On­col­ogy Cen­ter at Union Hos­pi­tal, be ev­i­dence that we will col­lab­o­rate and part­ner wher­ever pos­si­ble and how­ever pos­si­ble to bring that safe, high-qual­ity health care to our res­i­dents right here in Ce­cil County,” he said.

Robert Chren­cik, UMMS pres­i­dent and CEO, said one of his or­ga­ni­za­tion’s key goals is to work to­gether with its com­mu­nity part­ners, such as Union Hos­pi­tal, to make sure pa­tients are re­ceiv­ing the care they need lo­cally.

“To­day is a re­mark­able day, but for the folks who live in this county, it’s an even more re­mark­able day,” Chren­cik said, not­ing that, in the past, pa­tients had to travel to Bel Air or Chris­tiana, Del., for can­cer treat­ment. “I love com­ing out to th­ese kinds of events be­cause this is the great part; the real win­ner here is not the Univer­sity of Mary­land, it’s not Union Hos­pi­tal, the win­ner is the cit­i­zens of this county.”

More than the great fa­cil­i­ties, what the new ra­di­a­tion on­col­ogy cen­ter re­ally rep­re­sents is hope, said Dr. Wil­liam Regine, chair­man of the Univer­sity of Mary­land School of Medicine’s ra­di­a­tion on­col­ogy depart­ment and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mary­land Pro­ton Treat­ment Cen­ter.

Pre­vi­ously, about 50 per­cent of the cen­ter’s pa­tients needed cer­tain treat­ments and tech­nol­ogy that took them out of the county, Regine noted.

“Be­yond the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy, we now bring ac­cess to clin­i­cal tri­als and cut­tingedge ther­apy that was not as avail­able to the ex­tent at which it is now,” he said. “You now have ac­cess to all of the re­sources that 95 per­cent of the can­cer pa­tients who need care. For that five per­cent who need any­thing in ad­di­tion, there’s a di­rect pipe­line to down­town Bal­ti­more. We’re there to serve you and all of the peo­ple in this re­gion.”

The new cen­ter of­fers on­site treat­ment plan­ning, as well as on­site imag­ing, in­ter­nal mod­u­lar ra­di­a­tion ther­apy and se­lec­tive in­ter­nal ra­di­a­tion ther­apy, said Dr. Heather Curry, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the cen­ter. Pa­tients will also have ac­cess to UMMS re­sources, such as new op­por­tu­ni­ties to par­tic­i­pate in Na­tional Can­cer In­sti­tute ra­di­a­tion clin­i­cal tri­als and con­sul­ta­tions with Univer­sity of Mary­land doc­tors, among other re­sources.

The cen­ter also has a new state-of-the-art lin­ear ac­cel­er­a­tor, a unit that houses the ra­di­a­tion that is de­liv­ered to pa­tients’ can­cer sites via a process known as ex­ter­nal beam ra­di­a­tion ther­apy. To house the ac­cel­er­a­tor, a 3-foot­thick con­crete wall and lead vault had to be built at the west end of the ex­ist­ing build­ing.

The fa­cil­ity also has a brand new CT scan sim­u­la­tor, which takes scans of the pa­tient from all an­gles to de­ter­mine and track a cus­tom­ized treat­ment. Dosimetrists, or treat­ment plan­ners, will de­sign treat­ment plans us­ing the im­ages and ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion. Physi­cists will mon­i­tor and reg­u­late the equip­ment and ra­di­a­tion ther­a­pists will ad­min­is­ter the treat­ments.

Prior to the cen­ter’s open­ing, lo­cal pa­tients only had ac­cess to stan­dard ra­di­a­tion treat­ment such as 3D con­for­mal ra­di­a­tion and stereo­tac­tic body ra­di­a­tion ther­apy, Curry said.

A day be­fore the cen­ter opened, the on­col­ogy unit that Chris­tiana Care had op­er­ated in Elkton closed its doors after its lease ended on Oct. 31, Szumel said, not­ing the unit pro­vided tremen­dous ser­vice for 20 years.

“What Chris­tiana did for us, bring­ing our en­tire can­cer pro­gram to where it is now, none of this would have been pos­si­ble,” he said. “We owe a debt of grat­i­tude to Chris­tiana for what they’ve done for us up to this point.”

The hos­pi­tal’s next project is the $4.5 mil­lion Cri­sis As­sess­ment and Sta­bi­liza­tion Cen­ter. The fa­cil­ity will be built on a 3.5-acre par­cel of land that sits be­tween the Am­trak rail lines and Rail­road Av­enue in Elkton, across the street from the Ra­di­a­tion On­col­ogy Cen­ter. Con­struc­tion is slated to be­gin some­time this win­ter with the goal of com­plet­ing as much as pos­si­ble be­fore the ground freezes, Szumel said.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

This $3 mil­lion state-of-the-art lin­ear ac­cel­er­a­tor is the chief ra­di­a­tion tool in the new Univer­sity of Mary­land Ra­di­a­tion On­col­ogy Cen­ter at Union Hos­pi­tal.

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