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Valley Health Celebrates Dedication of New Cancer Center

After five years of planning, fundraising and construction, Valley Health dedicated its new regional cancer treatment facility at Winchester Medical Center (WMC) this morning. Hundreds of local officials, Valley Health trustees, physicians, staff and volunteers, donors, patients and area residents gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony and tours of the new building, which embodies the community support that made it possible, as well as the expertise, compassion and healing power found inside.

“This beautiful new center will benefit cancer patients, their families and our staff, functionally and aesthetically, by providing a bright, hopeful environment for those who, together, fight this disease,” said Valley Health System President and CEO Mark H. Merrill.

On a lakeside site adjoining the Diagnostic Center on the north side of the WMC campus, the 52,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility houses nearly every outpatient service a patient with cancer might need, including chemotherapy and radiation treatment areas, physician practices for surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, consult space for cancer patient navigators, nutrition counseling, integrative care and a clinical research office. Upstairs, a skywalk connects to the Diagnostic Center, where patients can access medical imaging, lab services and genetic counseling. A 70-seat meeting space makes cancer team conferences and patient, family and staff education more convenient. The building’s siting and design capitalizes on natural light, expansive outdoor views and an impressive wheelchair-accessible healing garden with rocking chairs overlooking the water.

“Cancer care has long been a vital service for us and for the communities we serve throughout our region,” said Winchester Medical Center President Grady W. “Skip” Philips, III. “This center enables our patients to conveniently access the entire spectrum of cancer services under one roof and have a more seamless, coordinated treatment experience from diagnostic services to surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, nutrition counseling, and integrative care. We have invested in state-of-the-art technology and continue to expand our established team with new cancer specialists who are drawn to our comprehensive program and vision for the future,” Philips adds. “This will be a wonderful place for our multidisciplinary team to work and our patients and families to be supported throughout treatment and recovery.”

Physician practices within the new center are Shenandoah Oncology (radiation oncologists and medical oncologists/hematologists), Valley Health Surgical Oncology (surgical oncologists, also thoracic surgeon, interventional pulmonologist and gynecological oncologists), and Valley Health Breast Center.

The Cancer Center’s radiation oncology suite has two new Varian TrueBeam™ linear accelerators and an enhanced radiation treatment planning system. In the medical oncology department, the infusion/chemotherapy area is spacious, with recliners overlooking the healing garden and lake and other comforting features for patients who may spend much of the day tethered to their intravenous treatment.

The $28.5 million project was approved by the Valley Health System Board contingent on the WMC Foundation’s success with an ambitious $10 million capital campaign. Successful it has been: more than 1,700 individuals and businesses have made donations of all sizes totaling $10.2 million to date.

“Our organization had not conducted a capital campaign for more than fifty years,” Merrill noted. “With strong leadership from Jimmy Wilkins, Harry Byrd, Bill Buettin and Jason Aikens, the WMC Foundation received a phenomenal response from area businesses and individual donors, as well as our own Valley Health ‘family’-- the Winchester Medical Center Auxiliary, our trustees, physicians and employees.”

The largest single gift was an $800,000 pledge from the Winchester Medical Center Auxiliary. A $500,000 in-kind donation from Trex Co., Inc., made possible a striking pergola and extensive decking in the Trex Healing Garden, which provides both a peaceful outdoor destination for patients, families and staff and beautiful views from the lobby, treatment areas and conference room along the building’s south side. “I hope those who have made a donation to this Center have an opportunity to see the inspiring space created through their gifts,” said Merrill.

For radiation oncologist Bruce Flax, MD, co-medical director of oncology services at WMC, the new Center provides a more pleasant environment, but he’s most excited about its functional beauty. “Putting our program under one roof will ensure closer collaboration between services and reduce patient and family stress. We are now providing less invasive and more precise treatments for brain, lung, head and neck and GI cancer, and we have dedicated space for a full-time cancer nutritionist. Even the communal waiting room, with its soaring ceiling and beautiful view, will reduce fear and encourage a sense of community during a difficult time.”

The new Cancer Center is located at 400 Campus Boulevard, Winchester. The facility will open to patients on Monday, August 29. Radiation Oncology’s move to the new Center will occur in late September to accommodate coordination of care for individual patients receiving radiation therapy.