"We hope you never need us, but if you do, we're here for you."
So spoke Porter Health Care System CEO Sean Dardeau to patients, community members, and staff gathered to witness the celebratory ribbon cutting in front of Porter Regional Hospital’s new Comprehensive Cancer Care Center.
The cancer center, housed in the medical offices building adjacent to Porter Regional Hospital’s main structure, brings all their oncology-related staff and services together in one location for the first time.
In addition to consolidating existing resources, Dardeau explained, the center houses expanded support and treatment options that rival—and possibly even surpass—those offered by many major urban counterparts.
Patients seeking cancer care will now find new physicians to complement existing service lines, a new Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) scan lab, oncology infusion therapy, nurse navigators to coordinate all care, radiation oncology, and screening services—all in a single location, within a short drive from their front door.
"Our mission is to provide excellent care close to your home," said Medical Oncologist Dr. Tareq Braik, M.D. "We're very proud to have a comprehensive cancer center that includes everything under one roof—radiation oncology, surgery, mammography, interventional radiology, and diagnostic radiology."
To round out their services, just this past July, Porter Regional Hospital welcomed Neurosurgeon Jonathan Hobbs, M.D. of the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, to the staff. Dr. Hobbs is now a part of the team treating brain tumors.
"The medical office building here has, from an oncology standpoint, every single specialist that we need to treat every single type of cancer," said Radiation Oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Quackenbush, M.D.
Not only has the new center reduced confusion and transportation needs for patients, it has also drastically improved communication within the department, Dr. Quackenbush explained.
"On Friday afternoons, all the cancer physicians get together and we do what we call a 'tumor board' where everybody involved in cancer care sits around a table and looks at films and talks about patients,” he said. “We get a lot of ideas from that. The communication has made patient treatments and coordination better."
Many of the films they review come from the center’s recently acquired, state-of-the-art PET/CT imaging scanner.
"The PET/CT has been a few years in the making and now we're so excited to have it here," said Interventional Radiologist Dr. Omar Barakat, M.D.
Known as a wide bore CT, the PET/CT is built with a larger, more comfortable tube for patients to lie in during the procedure, which allows the hospital to accommodate all patient- and body-types. It's also a very accurate scanner, particularly when imaging lung tumors, because of the 4D technology it uses.
"These are extremely advanced procedures that patients would otherwise go to a big city for, that can all be done here,” Dr. Barakat explained. “We can provide that exceptional care in our hometown."
Duneland Chamber of Commerce President Maura Durham was excited to help cut the ceremonial ribbon, recognizing the large positive impact the new center will have on the Region.
"We're celebrating their success as a hospital and encouraging people to come in and see what they have to offer," Durham said.
Cancer survivor and Valparaiso resident Rex Richard said he was deeply impressed by the new Comprehensive Cancer Care Center.
“I think this is one of the finest quality-of-life medical additions to our whole county system," Richards said. "So many people are touched by cancer and this facility is as nice as any cancer facility in the country."
"We've been working on this for a long time, all these pieces have come together and now we have what we're looking for,” Dardeau said in closing. “It's very gratifying."