New cancer center opens this week


GREENFIELD — After nearly a year of construction, the new cancer care center at Hancock Regional Hospital will see its first patients this week.

Construction on the center was completed this month, and staff moved into the center from their office in the basement of the hospital last week.

The new center, on the hospital’s south side along East Boyd Avenue in Greenfield, features 16 treatment areas, three exam rooms, a boutique, meditation terrace, a garden and state-of-the-art technology to support cancer care, officials say.

The new center will enable staff to provide comprehensive cancer care in-house for the first time. Plans for the center developed in 2013, after IU Health Physicians moved its linear accelerator, which is used in radiation therapy, out of the county, placing a burden on patients who were forced to travel for treatments.

The new cancer center is equipped with a PET CT Scanner and its own linear accelerator.

The center’s staff can administer medical oncology and radiation oncology treatments, and the center has its own pharmacy, with pharmacists ready to explain medication and other prescriptions to patients.

It’s a momentous time for local cancer patients, hospital officials say. To celebrate, a community open house is scheduled for July 23.

Linda Zerr, cancer care director, said the center is beautiful, and officials hope it will make patients’ battles with cancer a little easier.

“We’re trying to bring everything they want closer to home,” she said. “We feel our program now has a lot behind it.”

In addition to new technology, the cancer center will have nurse navigators, financial counseling, dietary services and a social worker to help patients and their families navigate cancer diagnoses and treatment.

Those services will provide comfort to patients, clinical manager Linda Holliday said.

“The quality of care is equal to none,” she said. “Cancer patients do not need to travel; they can stay close to home.”

The cancer care center has been steadily growing since it first opened in September 2013, and officials expect to see even more patients in the new facility.

Currently, the center is averaging more than 500 visits a month, Zerr said.

As the community grows and ages, local cancer care becomes even more important, she added.

“The care they’ll receive here is exceptional,” Zerr said.

As the center begins seeing patients this week, the Hancock Regional Hospital Foundation is continuing to raise money for its Cancer Care Campaign.

Nancy Davis, foundation executive director, said more than $1.4 million has been raised. Individuals and businesses in the community have stepped up to help fund the new cancer center, showing the value residents place in having a cancer center locally, she said.

The foundation plans to continue to raise money for the fund, which will support the construction, equipment and ongoing operations of the new center.

“Our hope is as more people in the community see this world-class facility, they might want to join us in this effort,” she said.

The new center is a much different environment than the space that previously housed cancer care, officials say. It’s inviting, calming and beautiful. They’re excited for patients to get the first glimpse of the new center this week.

“The aesthetics of the center are so beautiful,” Holliday said. “The sunlight; the windows. You’re going to be in awe when you come in here.”

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Residents will get a chance to see the newly constructed cancer center at Hancock Regional Hospital, 801 N. State St., next month.

A community open house is planned for 6 to 8 p.m. July 23.