GALLIPOLIS — When Barbara Shelton first learned she had a rare type of cancer last November, she became overwhelmed with a series of emotions.
What ensued was a series of visits and procedures at the James Cancer Center at The Ohio State University in Columbus. She said it all added up to a cancer-free diagnosis.
On Tuesday, Holzer Center for Cancer Care announced a partnership with James Cancer Center that will bring added technological resources and expertise to southeastern Ohio and western West Virginia.
Officials announced during a press conference Tuesday in the HCCC parking lot that the James Cancer Center will provide clinical and quality oversight of medical and radiation oncology services at HCCC.
“It’s a special day for the history of Holzer,” said Brent Saunders, chairman of the board for Holzer Health System. “We’re furthering our commitment to provide the very best cancer care to our friends, neighbors and loved one right here at home.
“I’d like to repeat … right here at home.”
“Having the Holzer Center for Cancer Care available in our communities is an integral part of our health care system,” said Ken Moore, executive director of HCCC.
As a member of the James Cancer Network, Holzer will have expanded access to targeted treatments and the latest clinical trials for each patient’s unique cancer, as well as additional resources for continuing education for physicians, nurses and allied professionals and collaborations for improved patient satisfaction.
“This is an amazing thing for our community. As a physician, this is a wonderful announcement,” said Dr. Wayne Munro, CEO of Holzer Health System. “It’s an administrative win for us, but as a physician, I’ve always been trying, in working with our team, to bring the very best care to our community and be able to support everybody and keep care local.
“I’ve been a physician here for more than 30 years. During that time, I’ve watched the technology and the level of care we provide just grow and grow and grow.”
The affiliation with James Cancer Center is another in Holzer’s list of connections with OSU. In May, Holzer announced its affiliation with OSU’s TeleStroke Collaborative to help bring rapid emergency room access to advanced stroke care to southeastern Ohio.
“We’re bringing all the technology and expertise from Columbus down here through the Ohio State team,” Munro said. “We’re doing a good job for our community, I think. The services here, I feel, are second to none.”
Dr. Michael Caligiuri, CEO of James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute and director of OSU’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, said James has 160 cancer physicians, all of whom specialize in one type of cancer. Those physicians, he said work with patients, as well as teach medical students, lecture around the world and perform more research in their particular specialty.
“We complement each other so well. There are outstanding cancer physicians here. They’re your first line of defense when you have a problem with cancer,” he said. “Holzer is the go-to place for you. It would be the go-to place for me if I lived here.”
Caligiuri said all people are touched by cancer in some way.
“One out of two men and one out of three women will have cancer in their lifetime,” he said. “Most of you are fairly young, much younger than I, but when I was medical school, when you heard the ‘C’ word as it was called, it usually meant one thing. With the advances in technology during the last 30 years, I believe we will have a cancer-free world in our lifetime. We’ll have children and grandchildren who will ask, ‘What was cancer?’
“This is the way we do it, with these kinds of partnerships, day in and day out working together.”
Except in cases of rare forms of cancer, like Shelton’s, the affiliation means most patients will receive cancer treatment close to home.
“Even though (James and Holzer) weren’t even affiliated then, they truly, in a sense, worked as a team like I had never seen,” she said. “Together, everyone achieves more.”