By Kirby Neumann-Rea • Of the News-Register • 

Hospital celebrates $9 million Hoover Cancer Center upgrade

Kirby Neumann-Rea/News-Register##Hoover Center radiation therapist Jennifer Sandels-West describes the linear accelerator technology to surgeon Sandeep Kumar, MD of Willamette Valley Medical Center, during Tuesday’s tour.
Kirby Neumann-Rea/News-Register##Hoover Center radiation therapist Jennifer Sandels-West describes the linear accelerator technology to surgeon Sandeep Kumar, MD of Willamette Valley Medical Center, during Tuesday’s tour.


Staff at Willamette Valley Medical Center’s Center celebrated the unveiling of the expanded cancer treatment facilities Tuesday at the McMinnville hospital’s H.R. Hoover Cancer.

Expansion of its cancer treatment facilities was made possible by a $9 million investment from WVMC’s parent company, Lifepoint Health. Hospital CEO Michael Mulkey said the expanded and upgraded equipment that “enables a higher level of care and better equips our specialists to help fight cancer. … It brings the latest cancer care to the Willamette Valley, increasing cancer care treatments to our community.

“We are caring for our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues and our family members here. It is deeply personal, and that’s what makes this so exciting.”

Mulkey welcomed about 60 staff and community members, directly thanking Carmelina Owens-Smith, cancer center manager, and the rest of the team. Owens-Smith has been with the center for the past 13 years, and all but four years since its founding in 2002. It is named for the late Harold R. “Jim” Hoover, who joined with other regional health providers in the 1990s to provide cancer treatment services at the hospital, working with shared offices and staff. Hoover was born Nov. 29, 1949, and died on Nov. 30, 2010, losing his own battle with cancer.

Following the ceremony was a ribbon-cutting hosted by McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, and tours provided following a short ceremony with speakers including Jen Alderfer, President, Western Division, Lifepoint Health; Catherine O’Brien, MD, medical oncologist and WVMC Board Trustee; and Aaron Sabolch, MD, radiation oncologist. Bob Barrett, Lifepoint chief financial officer, was also present.

Alderfer said, “Lifepoint Health is proud to be a partner with Willamette Valley Medical Center, to invest in the health of the Oregon communities we serve.”

One key piece of the upgrade, months under construction, is the “top of the line” linear accelerator, which applies radiation to tissue in a far more precise manner than was previously possible. This is done with another improved machine, the radiation CT scanner, which provides mapping data in 4-D: height, width, depth, and time in order to direct radiation to exact points and times, taking the patient’s respiratory motions into account.

O’Brien and Sabolch stressed that the center has an unusually close relationship between radiation and medical oncology.

“It doesn’t happen all the time, and I deeply appreciate it in our practice,” Sabolch said.

The CT scanner facilitates treatment planning “for every inch of the body,” he explained. “It is extended imaging capabilities beyond that of our prior technology.” Gating technology allows imaging through all phases of a patient’s breathing cycle, allowing the therapists using the linear accelerator and its “True Beam technology,” as it is termed, to fine-tune not only where the radiation is applied, but also when, reducing treatment time as well as the amount of healthy tissue affected.

“Cancer is a condition that impacts so many, and I would bet if we were to survey everyone here today, I would guess each of us probably has an image of a loved one who has faced a cancer diagnosis,” Alderfer said. “And that’s why this project is so special. It is one more example of how deeply we together care about this community and how we will come together as a community, looking for better ways to better serve our community and its needs”

She noted that the partnership with Oregon Oncology Specialists, “make us a together stronger, more resourceful team,” and thanked the WVMC board of directors, medical staff, and caregivers.

“Thank you so much for your tireless commitment,” she said.

O’Brien told the assemblage, “The team is now better able to meet the needs of our community because of the acquisition and expansion.

“One of the reasons I was drawn to oncology is it truly is from beginning to end, an entire team of people who come together to provide patients with everything they need for their cancer journey,” O’Brien said. “Our current team is special. And I could not be more proud to work alongside each of them every day.” She thanked the center and Lifepoint, and Owens-Smith, who oversaw the entire construction project.


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