Samaritan Pastega Region Cancer Center opens in Corvallis, Ore.

Lauren Sluss

Serving patients throughout Albany, Corvallis, Lebanon, Lincoln City and Newport, the Samaritan Pastega Region Cancer Center in Corvallis held its opening ceremony this past Saturday, which will serve as the new headquarters for Samaritan Health Services cancer treatment throughout the Willamette Valley.

The construction of this center, which officially began in Nov. of 2014 and finished in Dec. 2015, and was build to consolidate the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center Campus, according to Vice President of Ancillary Services Scott Wilson.

“A patient could have three appointments in a day, and going all over campus was a hardship physically and mentally,” Wilson said.  “The new comprehensive cancer center consolidates services, which makes it much easier for patients.”

This style of a comprehensive building has been recently gaining momentum in other hospitals, according to director of oncology services Brad Betz.

“A lot of centers are going in this direction, including most recently in Bend, Oregon,” Betz said. “We’re starting to see a new aged approach to oncology—putting the patient at the center.”

What sets the Samaritan Pastega Regional Cancer Center apart, however, is its construction was funded purely through donations, due to the fact the center is nonprofit.

“I was amazed about how the community stepped up,” Betz said. “This wasn’t a plan the hospital put together originally, but the community wanted it and raised over $12 million dollars to bring it to fruition. The amount of passion that was put into this building was astounding.”

The center employs 65 staff, eight of which are medical oncologists and three radiation oncologists.

The staff is able to work with the center’s new technology in order to better treat patients, such as the VitalBeam, a new radiation therapy beam that is only one of two in the world.

Our new VitalBeam allows for more accurate treatment in a smaller area is especially important for tumors in places such as the brain, lung or along the spinal cord,” Wilson said.  “When it’s appropriate for the patient, the VitalBeam also offers a technology called SmartArc to increase treatment efficiency and cut treatment time almost in half.”

Not only does its cutting-edge technology set the Samaritan Pastega center apart, but its unique support services to patients and their families work to accredit the center. Programs such as Exploring the Outdoors, That’s My Farmer, Equine Therapy Retreats and Creating Cancer Survivors work together to aid patients, according to Wilson.

“The goal is survivorship,” Wilson said. “Cancer today is not what is was in previous years. It’s not necessarily a death sentence anymore. These programs are in place to help patients who have gone through treatment to get back on their feet again.”

Along with providing care and treatment for patients, the staff is also working with the Alliance for Clinical Trials, a cancer research cooperative funded in part by the National Cancer Institute, according to Vice President of research and education for Samaritan Health Services research and quality Barbara Croney.

“Currently there are a dozen active clinical trials through our cancer program for conditions including breast, colorectal, head and neck, lung and prostate cancers.”

The center is also working with pharmaceutical companies looking to bring new drugs to the market.

“Studies are conducted in cancer prevention, supportive care and treatment options,” Croney said. “Most of the research we do includes tissue or specimen components, as well as genetic testing.”

The comprehensive approach, new technology and cancer research all culminate to set this center apart from the rest, according to Betz.

“We realized right from the start that just building four walls was not going to make a comprehensive cancer center,” Betz said. “The building was the catalyst for allowing us to create the best treatment possible for the patients.”

     More information regarding services the Samaritan Pastega Regional Cancer Center offers can be found on their webpage.

“Everyone in oncology is extremely passionate about what they do,” Betz said. “It’s not just about business and brick and mortar, but about compassion for patients, which is what we are focusing on in the Samaritan Pastega center.”