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Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network Celebrate the Opening of New AHN Cancer Institute at Saint Vincent

Thursday, October 31, 2019

$25 Million Facility Offers Cancer Patients Erie’s Most Advanced, Comprehensive Care Under One Roof

ERIE, Pa. – Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network (AHN) officials today joined patients, caregivers and community leaders to cut the ribbon to the AHN Cancer Institute at Saint Vincent Hospital, heralding a new era for cancer care in the Erie region.  The $25.4 million, 38,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility officially opens next week and will offer patients in one convenient location the community’s most comprehensive array of cancer fighting therapies, technologies and support services.

Located at 2508 Myrtle Street adjacent to the main hospital, the new cancer center is part of a $300 million commitment by Highmark Health to greatly enhance and expand the leading cancer treatment capabilities of AHN across the western Pennsylvania region.  It will connect Saint Vincent with AHN’s advanced quaternary cancer treatment and research programs at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) and West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, as well as the expertise of cancer specialists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. 

This year, AHN has already opened new community cancer centers in Monroeville, Butler County and Beaver County, with a center also set to open in Hempfield, Westmoreland County in January 2020. AHN’s Cancer Institute Academic Center at AGH is also currently under construction and will serve as the hub of cancer care innovation, clinical trials and medical education for the network.  

“Our significant investment in the cancer fighting capabilities and infrastructure of AHN over the past couple of years, together with the leading expertise of our caregiving team, should reassure everyone in Erie and beyond about the exceptional choice AHN represents for those who are diagnosed with cancer ,” said Cindy Hundorfean, AHN President and CEO. “This beautiful facility at Saint Vincent represents a game-changing milestone in cancer care for the people of northwestern Pennsylvania and we are absolutely thrilled to open its doors to those in need of its services.”

As the U.S. population continues to grow older and more diverse, the number of cancer diagnoses is rising.  The American Cancer Society estimates that roughly 1.7 million new cancer cases – 80,000 in Pennsylvania alone – will be diagnosed in 2019. In addition, there are nearly 17 million cancer survivors in the United States today, with that number expected to rise to nearly 22 million by 2029, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“At the AHN Cancer Institute, we are committed to helping patients and their families fight and win their cancer battle on every front, from patient-friendly facilities such as our new cancer center at Saint Vincent to our investments in leading-edge cancer treatments and technologies, to our collaborations with the best minds in cancer care at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere,” said David Parda, MD, Chair, AHN Cancer Institute. “With this new facility in Erie, we are enabling the vast majority of cancer patients to be treated at the highest level right here in their own community, including enhanced local access to new therapies being explored in cancer clinical trials.”

The first floor of the AHN Cancer Institute at Saint Vincent houses radiation oncology services, with four exam rooms and an array of leading-edge technologies, including:

  • Elekta Versa HD linear accelerator
  • BrainLab Exactrac, which enables stereotactic radiosurgery, designed primarily to treat certain cancers in the brain
  • Elekta Flexitron HDR (High Dose Rate) unit for brachytherapy treatments
  • Elekta ABC (Active Breathing Coordinator), used for advanced immobilization of tumors that may move due to respiration during treatment

Other innovative therapies available onsite include 3D and IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) external radiotherapies, VMAT (Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy) radiotherapy, SBRT and SRS (Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy and Stereotactic Radiosurgery) treatment, Brachytherapy for some gynecological cancers, Xofigo injections for some clinically indicated patients with metastatic prostate cancer, DIBH (Deep Inspiration Breath Hold) and other respiratory-gated treatments.

The building’s second floor is home to the Institute’s medical oncology program, including 18 infusion treatment bays and two private infusion rooms. It also includes 10 patient exam rooms, with an onsite lab and a state-of-the-art USP 800 Pharmacy – so patients can have testing completed and receive needed medications without having to leave the facility.

The Center’s location on the Saint Vincent Hospital campus also offers the added benefit of having the hospital’s many surgical oncologists in close proximity to the medical and radiation oncology teams, for more seamless collaboration and care planning.

The Cancer Institute is the only one in the region to provide disease-site-specific Nurse Navigators that follow patients from the day they are diagnosed with cancer through survivorship. These include navigators specializing in breast, GI/colon/rectal, thoracic, and genitourinary cancers, as well as navigators for inpatient oncology, general medical oncology and survivorship.

Nurse navigators are the patient’s liaison to clinical, psychosocial, supportive and spiritual resources necessary to ensure the best care outcomes.

The Institute also provides an on-site financial counselor, social worker and oncology certified nutritionist as well as palliative care services with access to an on-site palliative physician and CRNP specialist.

“Our new cancer center is another example of the patient-centered philosophy that has inspired all of the many facility and programmatic investments we are making a Saint Vincent, from the new emergency department and urology center of excellence we have unveiled in recent weeks to our new health and wellness pavilions and our new women and infants center that opened earlier this year,” said Saint Vincent President, Chris Clark, DO, MHA. “We want our patients to have convenient access to all of the high quality, well-coordinated care they need to improve their health and promote wellness.”

The new cancer center’s patient-centered philosophy is also reflected in the design and aesthetics of the facility.  The center features comfortable waiting areas, exam rooms and treatment areas that maximize privacy, abundant natural light and soft colors.

Free onsite parking will be provided and patients will be greeted by navigators who help manage their visit and expedite their care.