Cancer center a beacon of hope, unity

Those walking laps for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life last Friday had an extra reason for hope besides the sea of purple survivor shirts.

Displayed inside the Soldotna Sports Center that night were two conceptual drawings of a new Central Peninsula Hospital cancer center. While the drawings might not have received more than passing glances from some residents, they represent a great deal of work, planning, organization and effort that deserves to be recognized.

The new cancer center will be a beacon on the Peninsula -- hope for cancer patients who previously had to travel to Anchorage for treatment during one of the most difficult ordeals one might have to face.

Central Peninsula Hospital CEO Rick Davis, the CPGH, Inc. board and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre deserve a round of applause for brokering a deal with Dr. John Halligan, an Anchorage-based radiation oncologist. For months the borough and CPH talked with Halligan -- at times heated -- but both sides agreed on what's most important for our community. A unified, on-campus treatment center is at least a two decade investment in the health of Peninsula residents.

We're confident CPH will operate their new cancer center with the same skill and professionalism it does its existing operations. We are also pleased to see the hospital's desire to spread into new service lines most needed and still live within its means -- no easy task for a non-profit that's already done a good deal of growth.

The actual agreement between Halligan and CPH is something also worth noting. This editorial board has called on the borough and CPH to work better and more effectively with private physicians to create local health care continuity. We hope this agreement will further strengthen CPH's relationship with its physicians and surgeons.

We'd like to suggest the hospital consider that theme -- unity -- when tasked with naming our new center. Unity among cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. Unity among health care providers. Unity among the community to help those suffering from cancer.

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