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OMC kicks off community cancer project

On Jan. 29, the Ozarks Medical Center Foundation celebrated the official beginning of a new community project to make expansions to the OMC Cancer Treatment Center that will benefit the hundreds of patients the center treats each year.

The campaign, "Nurturing Hope: A Community Cancer Project" includes the expansion of the center's chemotherapy suite, the construction of a healing garden and new technology, that will allow the center to treat lung cancer with the very latest technologies.

"There is not a person in our community who hasn't been touched by cancer in some way," said Thomas Keller, OMC President and CEO. "Our vision is to bring together the best oncology treatment facilities and technology with a compassionate approach that supports each patient on their path to healing. This will impact the lives and health of thousands of community members for years to come."

According to OMC Foundation Board Member Ken Joplin, OMC has already invested $755,000 in the project to purchase new treatment technology. The Foundation has now embarked on a community campaign to raise an additional $1.2 million to complete an expansion of the Cancer Treatment Center

"We are asking the community to join us in leaving a legacy of nurturing and hope for our loved ones who have or will undergo cancer treatment," Joplin said. "With the support of our neighbors, we can make a difference in the life of each person in West Plains who experiences cancer."


"This isn't just an expansion, it is a complete redesign of the center to create a healing environment for our patients," said Brian Pence, Director of the OMC Cancer Treatment Center.

The Cancer Treatment Center location in the Shaw Medical Building first opened in 1998. Since that time, the center has experienced a great deal of growth, with 36 percent more patients in just the past three alone. This past year, the center saw more than 400 newly diagnosed cancer patients and many hundreds more who receive ongoing treatment.

"Many of our patients receive chemotherapy infusions several hours a day, several times a week. Because of our growth in new cases, we are in a cramped space with little room for patients, their families and nurses to move and work," he said. "The new space will be much more open with expanded care pods that provide room and space for our patients and their loved ones."

In addition, the new chemotherapy suite will have new treatment chairs, which feature heated seats, and built in pillow/head rest. Pence said the chairs are built to keep patients comfortable over an extended period of treatment time.

An additional part of the project will be the creation of a healing garden, located just outside the chemotherapy suite.

"A long, arching window will bring the outdoors in and provide a view to the new healing garden," Pence said. "It will be a serene and peaceful place for our patients and their families."


The Cancer Treatment Center project has already begun with a $755,000 investment by OMC in new 4D Oncology CT (computed tomography) equipment.

"Most tumors in the chest and abdomen move while the patient breathes making certain cancers, such as lung cancer and abdominal tumors, difficult to treat with radiation therapy," said Dr. Benjamin Yan, OMC Radiation Oncologist. "4D Motion Management is the technique used to track and treat patients with radiation while allowing for normal movement of the chest."

Dr. Yan, who is specially trained in these new treatment techniques, said this process helps protect healthy tissue from radiation exposure, reducing the side effects of treatment. Each year, there are approximately 220 new lung cancer patients in the OMC service area. Dr. Yan said this new technology will along with the state-of-the-art linear accelerator OMC purchased in 2011, will mean the majority of lung cancer patients can be treated here at home.

For more information about "Nurturing Hope: A Community Cancer Project" please contact the OMC Foundation at 417-853-5200.

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