Officials with McCook's Community Hospital broke ground for a new Radiation Oncology Center on Tuesday, even as temperatures reached into the triple digits.
Upon the completion of the center next year, local patients will no longer need to travel long distances to receive their radiation cancer treatments.
"Radiation therapy requires daily treatments for up to seven weeks," explained Jim Ulrich, Community Hospital's president and CEO. "Currently patients travel a minimum of 70 miles one way to receive radiation treatments, which take only a matter of minutes."
"We have known for many years the ability to provide radiation oncology in McCook will save our patients hours of travel and allow them the convenience and comfort of staying nearer their home," Ulrich said. He added that the hospital considers this an essential service because of the areas high population of elderly and incidents of specific cancer rates that rank above the national average.
Construction on the 4,200-square-foot facility is expected to begin later this month or in early June.
The Radiation Oncology Center will include a reception and waiting room, two large exam rooms, offices for staff, an oncology treatment vault, as well as extra space to allow for families to accompany their loved ones.
The total project is estimated at approximately $6 million. Community Hospital Health Foundation continues to raise funds for the project through the Campaign for Cancer Care.
After a nearly $3 million grant award and the funds donated through the Campaign for Cancer Care, the remaining cost of the project will be funded through hospital reserves and the funds remaining from the allocation originally designated for Community Hospital's Phase 1 and 2 projects through the USDA Rural Development. "Over the years, USDA Rural Development has been tremendous partners in healthcare with Community Hospital and other healthcare organizations in the region and the nation," Ulrich said.
"Adding radiation oncology will further enhance and complete Community Hospital's oncology services, which have expanded immensely in recent months," Ulrich explained. In the past two years, Community Hospital has developed a chemotherapy program with visiting oncologist support from the Great Plains Regional Medical Center's Callahan Cancer Center in North Platte. Maria DeVilla, M.D. and her clinic partner, Ahmed Awais, M.D. see patients weekly at Community Hospital at the Medical Specialists Center.
"This will be an exciting year and as a result of this project, access to oncology services in McCook and throughout this region will be tremendously enhanced," shared Ulrich just before breaking ground on the new facility.