UF Health Proton Therapy Institute receives Cancer Center of Excellence Award

April 1, 2015

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Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong presents award April 16; participates in ceremony marking completion of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., resident’s cancer treatment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the first stop today of a tour to the four state-designated Cancer Centers of Excellence, Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong witnessed the chime-ringing ceremony that takes place daily, often more than once, at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Each person fighting cancer that completes the six- to eight-week course of proton therapy rings the eight-foot custom chime suspended in the center of the main lobby as a symbol of completion and a signal to others to share in the celebration.

“The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is remarkable for its state-of-the-art radiation treatment, commitment to clinical research and dedication to high-quality care for people fighting cancer,” said Dr. Armstrong. “It is an honor to be here today to witness this care in action as Mr. Scarborough rings the chime to celebrate the completion of his journey – the cure of his cancer.”

Steve Scarborough is a Jacksonville Beach, Fla., resident who was treated for prostate cancer. He is the 3,575th person treated for prostate cancer with proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute since it opened in August 14, 2006. Nearly 6,000 people from 49 states and 29 countries have had proton therapy at the facility for cancers located in the brain, head and neck, lung, lymphoma, eye, breast, pancreas and prostate. In exit surveys, 98 percent of patients say they would recommend the facility to a family member or friend who needed radiation treatment.

“The treatment experience has been fantastic. The people are awesome. The level of care is unbelievable,” said Mr. Scarborough. “They create such a positive experience here that cancer’s not scary.”

UF Health Cancer Center Director Paul Okunieff, MD along with UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Associate Medical Director Randal Henderson, MD accepted the Cancer Center of Excellence Award from Dr. Armstrong.

“This recognition is a tribute to the entire staff at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute,” said Dr. Henderson. “It is a privilege to accept this award on their behalf.”

The designation by the Florida Department of Health recognizes hospitals and treatment centers that demonstrate excellence in patient-centered coordinated care for people undergoing cancer treatment.

The Florida Legislature established the designation through statute to encourage excellence in cancer care, attract and retain the best cancer care providers in the state and help Florida be recognized nationally as a preferred destination for quality cancer care, according to the Department of Health website.

The Department of Health based the designation on a “systems approach” to improving the quality of cancer care, focused on three areas: the health care organization, the health care team members and patients and family members.

Proton therapy delivers a precise radiation treatment while destroying cancer cells and minimizing damage to healthy tissue. That reduces side effects and lessens the risk of developing complications from treatment in later life. It is especially beneficial for treating cancer in children and adults with cancers in sensitive areas like the head, neck, lung, breast brain and prostate.

UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization affiliated with the UF College of Medicine and the UF Health Cancer Center, dedicated to delivering state-of-the-art cancer treatment and setting new standards for treating and curing cancer. The cancer treatment facility houses both conventional radiation and proton therapy, and delivers proton therapy to 110 patients a day. For more information about the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, please visit www.floridaproton.org, or call toll-free 877-686-6009.


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