A Note From Dennis Knox – May 2023

A Note From Dennis Knox – May 2023

Dennis Knox - MCMC CEO

It has already been an incredible year and we are only five months into 2023. The year has been challenging and has also provided us with some great moments. Most recently there have been extraordinarily strong wins for our patients, staff and community. I am excited for our future, and I hope you are too.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) approved our application to come together with Adventist Health. An agreement for Mid-Columbia Medical Center to join Adventist Health has been approved by state and regulatory bodies, clearing the way for the transaction to become official. Among the provisions of the approval are conditions like keeping up Adventist Health’s investment of $100 million over ten years to ensure MCMC’s operations and maintaining the level of existing services. The collaboration is expected to bring benefits in access, quality, and equity to the community, employees, and providers. Among those outcomes are strengthening MCMC’s ability to keep and expand health services, providing close-to-home access to needed healthcare, and improving recruitment of employees and providers. Together, MCMC and Adventist Health intend to maintain and enhance the immediate and long-term financial viability of MCMC that enables needed investments in our MCMC colleagues, the healthcare campus, technology, and programs.

With the state and regulatory approval process concluded the Adventist Health and MCMC teams are working toward a closing date. To learn more about MCMC joining Adventist Health, please click here.

As I communicated back in January, MCMC made the difficult decision to temporarily stop offering medical oncology services at Celilo Cancer Center effective February 28, 2023, due to the lack of provider coverage. As a result of our diligent efforts for solutions to our medical oncologist provider shortage I am pleased to share a recent development. Limited medical oncology services, including onsite medical oncology and hematology appointments, chemotherapy, immunotherapy infusions and dedicated lab services returned to MCMC’s Celilo Cancer Center beginning April 19, 2023, for an initial 90-day period. This is through a new collaboration with OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute. The collaboration was made possible, in part, by our friends at Adventist Health Portland who have a similar arrangement with the Knight Cancer Institute on their southeast Portland campus.

In this initial coverage, in a limited capacity, patients’ care will transition back to Celilo on a case-by-case basis depending on the specific needs of the individual patient and clinic resources. At this time, we will not have new patients referred yet as we concentrate on the support needed to care for previously established patients. This is a short-term agreement that will allow us to meet the core needs of cancer coverage in the Gorge while we continue to work with OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to establish a long-term plan. We are confident that this is just the first of numerous opportunities that will benefit the community and patients we serve as a result of our pending affiliation with Adventist Health.

Another win for the Celilo Cancer Center was the introduction of a new Varian True Beam Linear Accelerator (LINAC) that is built to treat cancer wherever it is found in the body. The innovative beam generating system is a game changer for cancer care in the Gorge: high-rate dosing to give the patients time back, beam intensity to centrally focus on small cancer targets, and beam energy that can be tailored to the target site.

Reaching a major milestone like this can only be achieved through incredible teamwork. In September of 2020, the Mid-Columbia Health Foundation took on the largest fundraising campaign in their history. By unanimous vote, the Board pledged to raise $1.8 million for the purchase of a new LINAC for our Celilo Cancer Center. Since that time, the total amount raised for the LINAC is $1.9 million which secured the True Beam unit – paying for the $1.8 million piece of equipment and partial installation. I want to thank my fellow Foundation Board members and our wonderful Foundation team lead by our Executive Director Amanda Evans for their philanthropic leadership. We are immensely proud of the accomplishment and want to thank our community for their steadfast belief in elevating cancer care, as well as their generosity that allowed to us to accomplish the goal of purchasing the LINAC.

I am grateful for the effort of the employees of MCMC, their resiliency, and determination to face the challenges of 2022 and 2023 head on. They have inspired me through their hard work and how, despite tough days and tough months, they stayed true to our mission to serve our patients and community.

The headwinds are still strong, and challenges felt by the healthcare industry nationwide are still very present at MCMC. Joining Adventist Health will not be the magic bullet and fix everything. Nevertheless, we remain hopeful and know, together, we can make an incredible difference to the communities we serve.