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Hospital Receives Grant of Nearly $3 Million from the Helmsley Charitable Trust for Radiation Oncology Center Equipment

April 23, 2013

Trista Kontz-Bartels (center), Program Officer for the Rural Healthcare Program representing The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust visits Community Hospital on Monday to announce the award of a nearly $3 million grant for Radiation Oncology Center equipment. The hospital plans to build an approximately $6 million Radiation Oncology Center beginning in May. Also present at the award ceremony (from left) were Jim O'Dea, Community Hospital Board of Directors chairman, Jim Ulrich, Community Hospital President & CEO, Terri Shipshock, Executive Director of the Community Hospital Health Foundation and Corey Brockway, Community Hospital Health Foundation Board of Directors chairman.

McCook, Nebraska—Community Hospital is pleased to announce the award of a $2,966,771 grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which has been designated for the purchase of a new linear accelerator for the Radiation Oncology Center project.

“This is a tremendous gift and will be a huge benefit to our Radiation Oncology Center project,” said Jim Ulrich, Community Hospital President and CEO. “By providing radiation oncology and cancer services right here in McCook we are taking giant strides toward our hospital’s vision, ‘To lead the region as a healthcare team by exceeding patient expectations through the advancement of quality healthcare services.’ Thank you to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for their belief in our vision to enhance access to oncology services in our region,” he added.

Beginning this spring, Community Hospital plans to build a 4,200-square-foot Radiation Oncology Center on the east side of the Medical Specialists Center on the hospital campus. The new service will allow patients to receive radiation in McCook as part of their cancer treatment.

“This enhancement to access of radiation oncology services will have a tremendously positive impact for patients in our region,” said Ulrich. “With an average of 325 new cancer cases diagnosed in our region annually, adding this service allows us to provide comprehensive cancer care which is so very important to our patients. We see it as an essential service since this area includes the highest population of elderly in Nebraska, with incidents of specific cancer rates above the national average,” he added.

Radiation therapy requires daily treatments for up to seven weeks. Currently patients travel a minimum of 70 miles one way to receive radiation treatments, which take only a matter of minutes. “We have known for many years the ability to provide radiation oncology in McCook will save our patients hours of travel and allow them the convenience and comfort of staying nearer their home,” Ulrich said.

The Radiation Oncology Center will include a spacious reception and waiting room, two large exam rooms, offices for staff, a control room and a large vault to contain the linear accelerator. The building is designed with a larger waiting area and exam rooms than most to allow families to accompany their loved ones during treatment, and for future growth of the service. “The center will provide a warm and friendly environment, with an ambiance of comfort that is reassuring to cancer patients,” Ulrich said. “Every effort will be made to make our patients comfortable and confident in their quality of care,” he added.

The total project is estimated at approximately $6 million. Community Hospital Health Foundation is raising funds for the project through the Campaign for Cancer Care. Fundraising received a kick start earlier this year through the $500,000 lead gift from Andy and the late Geri Anderson of McCook.

Ulrich said that adding radiation oncology will further enhance and complete Community Hospital’s oncology services, which have expanded immensely in recent months. In the past two years, Community Hospital has developed a chemotherapy program with visiting oncologist support from the Great Plains Regional Medical Center’s Callahan Cancer Center in North Platte. Maria DeVilla, M.D. and her clinic partner, Ahmed Awais, M.D. see patients weekly at Community Hospital at the Medical Specialists Center.

A new dedicated injection/infusion department allows nurses and pharmacists to provide services to patients needing chemotherapy in a private and comfortable setting. Four Community Hospital nurses have received specialized training and certification to administer chemotherapy with three more to receive the training in the near future.

The demand for this service has grown so quickly that an additional space, equipped with six chemotherapy chairs, has opened this month— doubling the injection/infusion department.

About Community Hospital
Community Hospital provides advanced care to more than 30,000 people who live in southwest Nebraska and northwest Kansas. Accredited by the Joint Commission, this critical access facility excels in surgery care, rehabilitation programs, obstetrics, emergency care, and in offering a wide range of visiting specialists. With a dedication to providing quality, efficient and patient-centered services, Community Hospital opened a 25-bed patient wing with all-private rooms in January 2011 and a new surgery wing, pharmacy, outpatient area and community wellness program area in May 2012 at a cost of $29 million.

About The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in a variety of selected areas. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $800 million to a wide range of charitable organizations. The Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel.  To date, this program has awarded more than $172 million to organizations and initiatives in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, and Montana.  For more information on the Trust and its programs, please visit

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