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With two proton therapy centers under construction and two more in development, ProCure is set to expand the availability of cancer care in the United States.
When the ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City opens in summer 2009, it will set a record for construction time of a proton therapy center. The 27-month pace is hardly coincidental – it’s exactly what ProCure Treatment Centers, Inc.’s (ProCure) founder had in mind when he started the company in 2005.
Recognizing the critical shortage in proton therapy treatment slots, ProCure President and Chairman John Cameron, Ph.D., envisioned a company that aligns itself with some of the nation’s leading radiation oncology practices and hospitals to develop proton centers, streamlining the complex construction process and bringing down costs through “best in class” efficiencies gleaned from some of the newer centers and those under development.
Dr. Cameron brought his professional expertise and his personal experience to the company having been part of the team that developed the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute (MPRI) located in Bloomington, Ind., and, as a patient—Dr. Cameron was treated at MPRI for prostate cancer. He surrounded himself with experts in proton therapy center development and finance who could build and operate proton treatment centers based on their collective experience.
Building a network of world-class proton therapy centers
ProCure’s mission is straightforward: to improve the lives of patients with cancer by increasing access to proton therapy. With conservative estimates calling for 56 centers to meet anticipated demand and only five open and another five actually under construction, building centers as quickly and efficiently as possible serves ProCure’s mission.
ProCure offers the most complete turn-key solution for physician groups and hospitals looking to bring proton therapy to patients, including the design, construction, financing, staffing, training and day-to-day operations and management of a center.
ProCure is the first company in the world to have two proton centers under construction and two more in development. Following the opening of the ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City in the summer of 2009, ProCure’s suburban Chicago center is scheduled to open in 2011. Other ProCure centers are being developed in South Florida and suburban Detroit. Dr. Cameron and company have no intention of stopping there, with talks ongoing to bring proton therapy to other areas of the country.
"We’re off to a good start, but we have a long way to go,” said Dr. Cameron. “Using very conservative estimates, there are more than 84,000 people each year who could benefit from proton therapy in this country and there are currently only about 6,000 treatment slots available. The math is quite sobering. As exciting as these milestones have been, we know there are thousands of patients with cancer today who could benefit from this important therapy.”
World’s first proton training and development center
Not only are there a limited number of operating proton centers (5), there is a lack of medical physicists, technicians and others trained in the technology. Typically, when non-academic medical centers have been completed, patient treatment is delayed while the medical, technical and administrative staffs are trained using the facility and thus delaying its availability for treating patients. To address this, ProCure created the Training and Development Center (TDC), the first and only center in the world dedicated to proton therapy training.
Located in Bloomington, ProCure’s headquarters, the TDC utilizes ProCure’s wealth of clinical, technical, interpersonal and administrative experience to provide before-the-job training in all aspects of proton therapy treatment. The TDC’s full-size treatment rooms are equipped with state-of-the art equipment – everything but the protons – to simulate the total treatment environment.
By providing staff with hands-on training as the construction of a center is being completed, ProCure’s centers will be able to treat patients much sooner than has ever been possible. (See additional article The Proof Is in the Protons: Training for proton therapy gains ground)
“When you’re treating patients with cancer, or any life threatening disease, so much revolves around the timing – it is of the essence,” said Dr. Cameron.
Advancing proton therapy education
ProCure also is expanding the ranks of medical professionals available to work in proton centers by collaborating with colleges and universities. A recently announced alliance with Oklahoma State University addresses a nationwide shortage of medical physicists by supporting graduate and undergraduate programs in medical physics. Students at Bloomington-based Ivy Tech Community College will benefit from a ProCure-sponsored program that will train and credential students enrolled in the college’s radiation therapy program in proton treatment. ProCure also is collaborating with the University of Pennsylvania and its proton center to advance treatment and research with ProCure centers contributing clinical data to a central repository and helping establish therapy protocols.
Focused on patients
ProCure has grown rapidly in its three-year existence, expanding from 38 to 80 full-time employees in 2008 alone, and has remained focused on its mission and dedication to the well-being of patients with cancer.
“We’ve made great progress in a very short time and it has been very exciting,” said Cameron. “We are continually reminded of the patients who need this therapy. It keeps us motivated, inspired and grateful to be part of something so important.” (Jan. 09).
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