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'A Place For Wellness': Officials Celebrate Opening of Northeast Texas Cancer and Research Institute

Publication: Tyler Morning Telegraph

Tuesday was a night of celebration at the Northeast Texas Cancer and Research Institute.

Officials from Texas Oncology-Tyler, Christus Health, city and county officials, and other dignitaries were on site for the grand opening of the state-of-the-art, world-class facility that will be a game-changer for patients and their families.

The new 85,000-square-foot institute features specialized areas for Texas Oncology-Tyler, including clinic space for medical oncology, hematology, gynecologic oncology, radiation oncology, and nearly 3,000 square feet of dedicated clinical research space.

The institute also provides patients with access to cancer prevention services, diagnostic screenings, and a comprehensive genetic risk evaluation program.

Additionally, it includes three linear accelerators for radiation therapy, 52 chemotherapy infusion stations, including six dedicated to research, and four private rooms.

It also provides patients access to Texas Oncology’s on-site pharmacy, laboratory services, and an exercise area. The institute began seeing its first patients this month.

Dr. Mark Saunders, radiation oncologist and co-founder of Texas Oncology-Tyler and East Texas Regional Medical Director of Texas Oncology, said patient feedback has been very positive over the last two weeks.

“It’s been wonderful, nothing but positive feedback,” Saunders said.

In the design process, it was very important for the institute to have a specific feel, Saunders explained.

“We wanted for people – family members, patients – to walk into this cancer center and feel differently. We didn’t want them to feel like its a place for the sick; we wanted it to feel like a place for wellness,” Saunders said.

Jason Proctor, ministry president of Christus Trinity Mother Frances Hospital, said patients have commented on the facility’s “healing presence” and accessibility. He said the facility’s easy access is monumental for patients and their families. It’s a one-stop location, as it provides therapy and dietary services, surgical specialties, imaging, treatment and more, he said.

“They can park in the garage and never have to move their car,” Proctor said. Something as simple as “the parking garage making it easier to park when you’re coming for treatment is important.”

According to officials, the combination of expert inpatient care at Christus and Texas Oncology’s decades of experience in pioneering community-based care will allow them to continue to meet the growing need for comprehensive cancer care in Northeast Texas.

Not having to travel for treatment is life-changing for families going through cancer, Proctor said. The institute believes patients deserve access to high-quality cancer care from local expert oncology teams, with the critical support of family and friends nearby.

“Being able to be with your support system – your family, your church, your friends – and being able to sleep in your own bed after you’ve had a day of treatments is huge,” he said. “It’s better for the patient, it’s better for the family, and we’re just so blessed to have this opportunity in East Texas.”

The Tyler area is also a longstanding hub for groundbreaking cancer research at Texas Oncology, Saunders said. The practice routinely enrolls more cancer patients in clinical trials from this region than any other region in Texas.

To date, Texas Oncology-Tyler oncologists have provided more than 550 clinical trials in which more than 8,100 area patients have participated, according to Saunders. As a lead participant in U.S. Oncology Research, Texas Oncology has played a role in the development of more than 100 FDA-approved therapies.

Currently, Texas Oncology-Tyler has nearly 2,100 patients participating in active clinical trials. “With the opening of the Northeast Texas Cancer and Research Institute, we hope to be able to provide even more patients with access to the latest advancements in cancer treatment and leading-edge cancer care,” the institute said in a press release. “Our team of cancer care specialists throughout the state work together to share expertise and collaborative support so that we can provide patients with personalized, evidence-based care. And we believe patients shouldn’t have to leave their community to get it.”

Texas Oncology-Tyler has served the community with leading-edge cancer care for more than 25 years, and officials said they are pleased to expand that ability through the opening of the new institute.

The institute said the new center reflects the partners’ commitment to investing in their facilities to better meet the growing need for cancer care, including innovative therapies and breakthrough treatments.. According to the Texas Cancer Registry, more than 137,000 people in Texas will be diagnosed with cancer this year. In Tyler alone, nearly 1,400 people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer.

In conclusion, Texas Oncology-Tyler and Christus Health said they are proud to provide cancer cancer in modern facility that will enhance the overall patient experience.

“Providing a wide array of care and services, including access to clinical trials, in this single location means a cancer diagnosis can be effectively addressed with less overall disruption to patients’ lives while allowing them to stay close to the critical support of loved ones,” according to the institute.

This article originally appeard in the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

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