The community groundbreaking ceremony for the new Radiation Oncology Center to be built on the Central Peninsula Hospital campus brought joy to cancer survivors who know what it is like to have to travel to Anchorage for treatment. “This is an exciting day and the result of a twenty year dream,” said Alyson Stogsdill, CPGH Inc. Board Member and twenty year cancer survivor. “You wouldn’t believe the room Kathy Lopeman had to use for my treatments, it was a closet.”
In welcoming dignitaries and guests to the ceremony Central Peninsula Hospital (CPH) CEO Rick Davis said, “This has been a united effort of the Board of CPGH Inc., the community who has rallied behind this project, the Borough Assembly and administration that have successfully worked together to make this a very happy day for everyone, especially the 80 to 100 patients who right now are going to Anchorage for their radiation oncology treatment who will be able to receive their cancer treatment without traveling to Anchorage.”
Dr. John Halligan M.D. will be operating the new Peninsula Cancer Center and told those assembled at the ceremony, “I came to Alaska four and a half years ago and within the first six months I was here practicing in Anchorage I came down to visit the hospital here because I was seeing quite a few patients from the Kenai and I wanted to find out what was available and at that first appointment that I had here one of the first questions that was asked of me was when can you guys bring radiation therapy down here, but I was just getting my feet wet in Anchorage so I told Ryan Smith at the time to give me some time to think about it. We kept seeing more and more patients from here that the trip was quite difficult and I started seriously thinking about bringing a cancer center down here. Originally our plans were for a center off campus from the hospital, but then meeting with Mayor Navarre and Rick Davis and talking about their desire to have the site on campus and with their cooperation we felt that would something wise to do and I think it will be a great service for the community and I feel will work out quite well. I have had patients who have literally made the drive back and forth everyday for seven weeks and I realize how physically difficult that has been for them in addition to going through cancer treatment. I have also had patient fly back and forth every day for five weeks and that is difficult as well as costly which most of our patients can’t afford. Some choose to stay at the Hickel House, but that is not their home where their family and friends are there to support them so having this available locally I feel will be a great benefit to everyone,” commented Dr. Halligan.
It was joked that the road to the ground breaking ceremony was about as rough as the Alcan Highway circa 1949 and Borough Mayor Mike Navarre commented, “I feel very good about what is happening today. I think all the players came together in the end to smooth that road out and support this project and I’m glad to see it here on the hospital campus because it will be a tremendous asset for the entire Peninsula well into the future. The bumps were mainly communication issues but that worked out and we are on our way with the next step toward the final completion of our hospital campus,” said Navarre.
According to Navarre the project has a very tight time line and is scheduled to be completed by April of 2013 with services to commence immediately after that.
Music for the groundbreaking ceremony was provided by the CPH Threshold Choir.