New clinic, cancer center open in Ashland

Release Date: 05/02/2016 | Business North

Essentia Health opened its new 20,000-square-foot clinic Monday on Ashland’s medical campus, which also is the site of Memorial Medical Center (MMC).

Also Monday, the new Northwest Wisconsin Cancer Center (NWCC) opened its doors to patients. The $12 million facility also is located on MMC’s campus at 1615 Maple Lane. It is a collaboration between Memorial Medical Center and Essentia Health, the healthcare companies said in a joint announcement.

“It’s such a convenience for our patients to have the clinic be attached to Memorial Medical Center,” said Carol Anderson, who has been administrator of the Essentia’s predecessor Clinic for eight years. It too was on the MMC campus. “We are so pleased that the new clinic offers that same convenience as well as the added benefit of being attached to the new Northwest Wisconsin Cancer Center.”

“Essentia Health has been providing cancer care services on the Memorial Medical Center campus since 2002,” said Jason Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of MMC.  “For the past several years, we’ve been discussing how we could bring our services together. We are thrilled to finally be able to offer the highest level of care to our friends and neighbors in northern Wisconsin and northeastern Michigan.”

The new clinic offers a new rooming model allowing patients to go directly from registration to their exam room without ever stopping in the waiting area.

“This alleviates the need to call a patient’s name out loud which further enhances patient privacy,” Anderson said.

The clinic is equipped with four private patient and family rooms. They are used only for consultations and intentionally do not include any clinical elements.

“Research indicates that if a patient is removed from an exam room and placed in a normal, non-clinical setting, they will retain 60 percent more information than if they stayed in the clinical setting of an exam room,” Anderson said.

The new facility features the latest generation of imaging technology for mammography, ultrasound and dexa scans which measure bone density, including full body scanning.

“We’re very excited to have these medical advancements right here in Ashland,” said Section Chair and Internal Medicine Physician Kim Ogle, MD.

The Northwest Wisconsin Cancer Center offers area cancer patients the ability to receive many of the same services provided at larger, regional cancer centers including radiation therapy.

“Having the ability to offer radiation therapy here in our community will make a world of difference to patients already going through such an ordeal as cancer,” said NWCC Manager Terri Kramolis. “To eliminate a three to four hour commute daily to Duluth will greatly benefit our patients.”

MMC and Essentia have invested in a $4 million state-of-the-art Varian Truebeam Linear Accelerator.  The machine pinpoints the proper dose of radiation with remarkable accuracy and is the most advanced accelerator in the entire Northland.  Medical Physicist Brian Morabito joined the cancer center team in February and has been working to get the new equipment ready to begin treating patients starting in June.

Over the summer, he will work closely with visiting radiation oncologists from Essentia’s cancer center in Duluth to provide radiation therapy to area cancer patients.  In August, Morabito will be joined by full-time radiation oncologist Dr. John Boyle, who comes to the cancer center from Duke University.

Oncologist Mihailo Lalich, MD, will continue to care for patients at the cancer center as well as Essentia’s Clinic in Hayward.  Dr. Lalich’s colleague, Peter Kebbekus, MD, PhD, will continue to travel from Duluth to care for patients at NWCC one day per week. He also sees patients at Essentia’s Spooner Clinic.

Douglas said the public will be invited to tour the new cancer center at an upcoming grand opening celebration in June.

Kahler Slater was the designer and Boldt managed the construction.