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03-23-04 Cancer care available in Celina

By Timothy Cox

The Grand Lake Regional Cancer Center in Celina is officially open for business, serving area cancer patients with radiation and chemotherapy treatment and an array of support services for families stricken by the disease.
   More than 100 area health professionals and business people gathered Monday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the oncology unit’s Pro Drive office.
   The ceremony also gave Congressional officials a chance to drop off a $1.25 million check from the federal government to help fund the project. The federal funding is for the entire Cancer Network of West Central Ohio, which means officials can use the money to jointly pay for the Celina center and a second oncology unit in Bellefontaine. The cancer network is the non-profit entity the participating hospitals set up to manage the oncology units.
   U.S. Rep. Mike Oxley, R-Findlay, was on hand for the ceremony.
   “Cancer remains a frightening disease, but we know that good medical care can preserve and save lives,” Oxley said in a news release previously announcing the award of federal assistance. “Cancer patients in West Central Ohio will have the reassurance of knowing that they have access to the best care right in their own backyard.”
   The 24,000-square-foot, $6.8 million oncology center is a joint venture of the West Central Ohio Regional Healthcare Alliance, a group of five regional hospitals, including those in Coldwater and St. Marys.
   he project was so well-received that alliance officials agreed to fund a second center in Bellefontaine before the Celina unit was even completed.
   Four oncology professionals already have begun practicing in Celina, helping to create the “medical campus” theme officials were hoping would take root at the location.
   Studies estimate that during the first year of operation of the Celina center, there would be about 450 people in Mercer, Auglaize, Shelby and Van Wert counties in need of radiation or chemotherapy treatment. By capturing 75 percent of the available market in Mercer County, 50 percent in Auglaize, 20 percent in Van Wert and 10 percent in Shelby, the center would have 215 patients, enough to make the venture profitable in its first year.
   The center likely would also draw at least some number of patients from Darke County and Jay County, Ind., officials have said.
   Celina was identified as a good central location to serve the population in those counties because cancer patients now are fragmented among hospitals in surrounding metropolitan areas such as Lima, Dayton, Columbus and Fort Wayne, Ind.


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