Chris Laman is the director of the cancer treatment collaboration between Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria and the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute.
He said for thousands of his cancer patients, radiation treatment used to mean day after day of four-hour drives.
“They have to make up to 35 trips to Portland or Longview and those are really on a daily basis,” he said. “And it’s a terrible hardship, especially in our rural settings where we have people who don’t really have the finances or means to make those trips.”
But by working with local authorities, the hospital capped a dump and built a new school athletics center on top.
In exchange, the hospital got to build its radiation center on a school football field nearby. It’s expected to deal with 1,800 radiation therapy visits during its first year of operation.
In 2011, the Astoria Development Commission awarded Columbia Memorial and OHSU a $300,000 urban renewal grant to help pay for improvements in the Park Medical Building. That allowed the creation of the first cancer center, which offered medical oncology and infusion services.
The cancer center provides more than 3,500 office visits and 2,500 infusion and chemotherapy visits per year. Now that the CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative has opened, those numbers are expected to increase to 5,700 office visits and more than 3,000 infusion and chemotherapy visits.