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Memorial Health System boosts care in cancer, open heart services

The new Memorial Health System’s Cancer Center in Belpre will open Feb. 28 with radiation oncology services. Throughout the month of March more cancer treatment services will be opening at the center with all of their cancer services in place there by the end of the month. (Photo Provided)

MARIETTA — As the Memorial Health System has dealt with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the health system is adding new services and expanding care throughout the area, especially in the treatment of cancer and open heart services.

Memorial, which operates Marietta Memorial Hospital, the Belpre Medical Campus and Sistersville General Hospital, has continually upgraded and made investments in the treatment of a variety of ailments for patients in the area.

The new Cancer Center at Memorial’s Belpre Medical Campus is scheduled to start treating patients on Feb. 28 with radiation oncology, Memorial Health System President and CEO Scott Cantley said.

“We have a long tradition of having a great cancer treatment program at Memorial,” he said.

Throughout the month of March, through a series of openings, more cancer treatment services will be opening at the center with all of their cancer services in place there by the end of the month.

As part of Memorial Health System’s cancer treatment services, it will be using the Cyberknife system in its treatment program. It is a robotic system controlled by computers which allows more precision in radiation treatment. (Photo Provided)

“We have a wonderful new facility that will mean a lot to our cancer patients, in terms of convenience, access, resources and new treatment options,” said Jennifer Offenberger, associate vice president, service excellence for Memorial Health System.

The necessity of the move was prompted by the need for the cancer treatment program to grow, said Stacey Wyer, Interim Director of Oncology, in a release from Memorial.

The cancer services in Marietta had reached capacity in the space they had available.

“Relocating is going to let us expand our services, offer new treatment options, and make it more convenient for our patients who currently might have to travel between the Belpre and Marietta campuses,” Wyer said.

Cantley said they are utilizing “the most precise radiation delivery system in the world.”

The center will be utilizing two new radiation oncology treatment machines and the Cyberknife system in its treatment program. CyberKnife, built by Accuray Inc. in California, is not actually a knife but is a robotic system controlled by computers which allows more precision in radiation treatment, Memorial officials said.

“The CyberKnife will allow us to provide radiation treatments within sub-millimeter precision to the tumor area,” Wyer said. “It will provide a more focused treatment without damaging normal surrounding tissue. It’s able to track a tumor through the patient’s breathing process, which means only minimal doses to surrounding tissue and fewer side effects.”

The system can be used in the treatment of brain, lung, liver, kidney, prostate and other cancers.

“There are so many treatment options that this precise radiosurgery program will allow us to do,” Cantley said.

Dr. Srini Vasan, a radiation oncologist with Memorial, said in the release the Cyberknife was an effective alternative for tumor treatment.

“It’s an easier way to tackle some of these surgeries, and it can work for some patients who otherwise couldn’t have surgery at all,” he said. “It goes beyond where conventional surgery stops, where traditional surgery cannot be done … It’s like surgery without cutting open the body.”

Memorial’s Cyberknife system is only one of a small number in the State of Ohio, Cantley said. The nearest centers for patients in the Marietta-Parkersburg vicinity are Columbus and Huntington.

“It is so precise that radiation can practically mimic the surgeon’s scalpel with the precision of our radiation delivery system,” he said. “We are thrilled and excited to bring this new treatment to the Mid-Ohio Valley. It was one of the reasons we wanted to invest in cancer services.

“We are bringing world leading technologies to this region.”

Cancer services were at Belpre since the Campus opened, but Memorial officials wanted to bring everything back together and be a regional cancer center, Cantley said. The Belpre Campus was picked to centralize the cancer services to reach a wide number of people in both Ohio and West Virginia.

Cantley said Marietta Memorial Hospital started its cardiac surgery program in August with cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Mark Tawil, who does coronary artery bypass surgery, cardiac valve surgery, lung surgery and esophageal surgery.

“We had an incredible start,” Cantley said. “We were really blessed to have an experienced cardiac surgeon who has done hundreds of cases to start our program.”

Tawil came from the Cleveland/Akron area where he helped build cardiac programs.

Memorial has been doing some cardiac services for over a decade in terms of catheterizations and more. Marietta Memorial Hospital has done 30 open heart procedures since August, Offenberger said.

The procedures done at Memorial have included coronary artery bypass grafting and aortic valve replacements, said Ashley Nutter, Director of Cardiac and Vascular Services. They are looking to soon do micro-valve replacement

“As the program grows we are looking at doing all other cardiac surgery procedures,” Nutter said.

Offenberger said Memorial is also working with the electrophysiology component of heart care, the heart’s electrical system, with dedicated Cardiac Electrophysiology specialists, Dr. Glen Miske and Dr. Maninder Bedi, to deal with patients with irregular heartbeat rhythms, pacemaker needs and so on.

Over the past year, Memorial Health Systems took over operations at Sistersville General Hospital, effective this past October.

Tyler and Pleasants counties have had many people come to the Memorial System for treatment in the past, Cantley said.

“We are all about this region, helping improving health care in the entire Mid-Ohio Valley,” he said. “We are really pleased with that addition to our health system and look forward to a lot of enhancement as we go forward and continue to invest in and grow the healthcare in Tyler County as well.

“We are working with the City of Sistersville to make sure they have continued healthcare for decades to come.”

Orthopedic specialists will begin conducting clinics there in March and additional specialty clinics are being planned for Sistersville General Hospital.

“It will be the first of many,” Cantley said of the orthopedic clinics. “Who knows how quickly we will be able to grow.

“We are all about this region, helping improving health care in the entire Mid-Ohio Valley.”

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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