Executive Director Message

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Our goal is to make proton cancer treatment at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute a confident choice for those who need it most. This means that we’re dedicated to delivering cutting-edge treatment coupled with compassionate, patient-centered care. We are fortunate to have a team of experts on our front lines, including an incredible nursing staff, who care for our patients, assist in clinical trials and are specialists in their fields of care. Our team’s depth of care, experience and knowledge is what sets our facility apart. In May, we are honored to celebrate our dedicated staff of nurses during National Nurses Month.

Our commitment to care has been highlighted twice in recent months. The UF Health Cancer Center on the Jacksonville campus recently received a prestigious three-year accreditation from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.

And, Dr. Raymond Mailhot, one of our physicians, received a Live LIke Bella® grant to lead research to explore the relationship between pediatric brain tumors, proton therapy and scholastic success using data we collect at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and from Florida standardized testing scores. Our facility and staff are always on the leading edge of research, developing the highest levels of care for our patients’ well-being and best chance for a cancer-free future.

Stuart L. Klein
Executive Director

Thank You to Our Expert Nursing Staff

Carleen Marianek, MSN, RN and Amy Sapp, MSN, RN
Carleen Marianek, director of adult nursing, and Amy Sapp, director of pediatric nursing

The depth of experience and specialization at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in every department is a distinction that sets us apart from other proton therapy centers and radiation oncology practices in the region. In recognition of National Nurses Week, held annually in May, we highlight the expertise of our adult and pediatric nursing teams. The adult nursing department is led by Carleen Marianek, MSN, RN, director of adult nursing, and the pediatric nursing team is led by Amy Sapp, MSN, RN, director of pediatric nursing.

One aspect that sets our nurses apart is that all our nurses are both clinical – meaning they provide the day-to-day care of patients receiving treatment – and conduct research – meaning they follow-up with patients on clinical trials. Each nurse works as a team member with the physician and has a specialty in the anatomical site that is being treated.

The adult nursing team is comprised of 20 full-time nurses and medical assistants, three part-time nurses and medical assistants and one clinical office coordinator. Their ranks include three oncology-certified nurses, three nurses who have master’s degrees in nursing and one nurse who is working toward a degree to become a nurse practitioner. The pediatric nursing team consists of three full-time nurses and one medical assistant. Of those nurses, one has a master's degree in nursing, and one holds a chemo and biotherapy certification. In addition, we have multiple bilingual nurses.

Our nurses apply their specialized knowledge and skill with compassion each and every day. Patient care is tailored to the individual, and the nurse case manager helps patients manage symptoms or treatment-related concerns during and after treatment. Excellent nurses have a unique capacity to care and to take action to help others. Both on the job and on their own time, our nurses exemplify compassion, professionalism and leadership.

UF Health Recognized for Comprehensive, Compassionate Care

Commission on Cancer Logo The UF Health Cancer Center on the Jacksonville campus recently received a prestigious three-year accreditation from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. The cancer program met 34 CoC quality care standards and demonstrated levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care. UF Health will be re-evaluated every three years through the survey process, which highlights continued commitment to maintaining quality standards of care.

It requires a multidisciplinary approach among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists and other cancer specialists to treat cancers as a complex group of diseases.

The CoC accreditation program provides the framework for the cancer center to improve its quality of patient care through various cancer-related programs that focus on the full spectrum of cancer care, including prevention, early diagnosis, cancer staging, optimal treatment, rehabilitation, life-long follow-up for recurrent disease and end-of-life care.

We are proud of our medical care team and their commitment to providing high-quality patient care.

Live Like Bella® Grant Funds Research on Brain Tumor Treatment and Scholastic Success

Dr. MailhotMay is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. One benefit of using proton therapy for the treatment of brain cancer in adolescents is the ability to target the tumor with minimal impact to surrounding developing tissue. This has shown benefits for future scholastic success and we’re on the forefront of studying the impacts with a recently received grant from the Live Like Bella® Initiative.

The grant will help advance our work on measuring the effects of radiotherapy and brain tumors on the scholastic outcomes of pediatric patients. Earlier this year, Dr. Raymond Mailhot was awarded the $247,000 grant from the Live Like Bella® Initiative to study the relationship between brain tumors, proton therapy and scholastic success.

Dr. Mailhot’s study will combine data gathered from The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute with scores from the Florida Department of Education’s statewide Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests (FCAT) to measure student performance. Through this research, we hope to further advance the safe treatment of pediatric patients with rare brain tumors.

Live Like Bella® was founded in 2013 with the mission to help children with cancer and honors the life of Bella Rodriguez-Torres. Since its inception, the Live Like Bella® Foundation has funded $13,000,000 for pediatric cancer research. UF Health has received grants from the foundation in the past and is honored to receive its continued support for expanding our understanding of how to best care for our pediatric patients with rare brain tumors.

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Dr. Rutenberg Leads CME Course in May

Dr. Michael RutenbergAs a leader in proton therapy and the first proton therapy facility in the Southeast U.S., The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute seeks to share its expertise and knowledge garnered through cutting-edge research with the medical community.

On May 12, Dr. Michael Rutenberg delivered a free continuing education session titled, Proton Radiotherapy for Central Nervous System Tumors. Dr. Rutenberg has led the way in creating new standards of care in radiation oncology and shared his experience and knowledge with participants. CME participants also learned about the ways proton therapy is making a difference today in patient outcomes.

Dr. Rutenberg specializes in the care of patients with malignancies of the gastrointestinal and central nervous systems and sarcomas. He leads the reirradiation program at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, utilizing proton therapy for patients previously treated with radiotherapy. His research interests include esophageal and liver cancers, sarcoma, brain and spine malignancies.

Keep an eye out to sign up for the next free continuing education event on August 17th when Dr. Nichols discusses the power of proton therapy for lung cancer.

Physicians Receive Well-Earned Praise During Doctors’ Day 2021

On March 30, the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute recognized National Doctors’ Day. It is always a special day as we recognize our physicians and health care teams. Doctors’ Day 2021 had an even more profound impact, as physicians around the world have spent the last year maintaining day-to-day care for their patients while under threat of a global pandemic.

We are proud to share that every UF Health Proton Therapy physician was honored with kind words and other displays of generosity for Doctors’ Day. The outpouring of testimonial and philanthropic support is an incredible validation of the quality of care and expert treatment our physicians provide for their patients. In many cases, accolades extended well beyond physicians to include our nursing team, radiation therapists, physicists and receptionists – further emphasizing the collaborative approach to care we strive to provide our patients.

Some of the many words of appreciation we received include:

“Doc, thank you for all your hard work. Making the therapy simple to understand and returning my health back to normalcy.”

“Just passed five years, which I would not have had without you.”

“Thank you for all of your care and deep concern for my well-being as I went through months of proton therapy… you certainly know what you are doing and how to help patients.”

“Your tireless care has made a difference to so many… thank you.”

Whether you are honoring a physician or friend, or wish to recognize a birthday or milestone moment, please contact the UF Health Proton Therapy Development Office for assistance. Any day is a great day to honor your physician or care team. We invite you to mark your calendars for the next National Doctors’ Day, which will be celebrated March 30, 2022.

Website Redesign Launching Soon

Exciting things are about to happen at floridaproton.org! We are excited to announce that UF Health Proton Therapy Institute will be unveiling a redesigned website in the coming weeks. When the website launches, it will feature more robust and engaging content with refreshed information on many pages including those about each cancer treated at our cutting-edge facility. The redesigned website will be consistent with our brand and promises to be even easier to navigate so that current patients, prospective patients and anyone interested in learning more about proton therapy can find exactly what they’re looking for.

New UF Health Proton Therapy Institute website

Follow us on Facebook @FloridaProton and we’ll keep you up-to-date once we’re ready to launch the redesigned website.

Executive Director Message

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Whether patients are from the local Jacksonville community or beyond, they have the peace of mind knowing the care they receive is customized to meet their needs and follows enhanced COVID-related safety measures. Beyond knowing the best way to treat cancer, having the most advanced technology and being the most experienced professionals in our region, our entire staff is committed to making patients feel at ease. This includes the significant safety precautions in place as guided by the CDC, ASTRO and UF Health.

We are proud to have treated over 9,000 patients from all 50 U.S. states and over 33 countries throughout our nearly 15 years as a cancer treatment center. We celebrate the diversity of our team, which reflects the population we serve, and is one of the many ways we continue to strive for excellence in our cancer care.

Stuart L. Klein
Executive Director

A TED Talk is in Alumni’s Future

TED Talk with Amelia HoweAmelia Howe from Rugby, Warwickshire, England, has a message for the world, and she plans to give a TED talk to share it. Treated for a soft tissue cancer, or sarcoma, four years ago at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, she is now in remission and a student at the University of Sheffield. With the help of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the nonprofit that fulfills the wishes of critically ill children, she wants to use her wish to change cancer care language.

By using the influential platform of TED, a nonprofit that spreads ideas through powerful, short talks, Amelia hopes to help other cancer patients by convincing the medical community and caregivers, friends, family and others to replace war terminology, like “battle” and “fight”, with more useful and supportive language.

 

To learn more about Amelia’s story, click here to read an article that was published in her local newspaper.

Leadership and Excellence in Proton Therapy

Our team of professionals is dedicated to the highest quality care of cancer patients and to improving care for future patients. They are often recognized for their outstanding work to advance the field of radiation oncology within the University of Florida and in professional medical associations. Here are a few recent accomplishments of team members we are proud to share:

 

Teena BurchianitiTeena Burchianiti, MSN, APRN, ANP-BC, OCN®, is the 2021 UF Health Cancer Center Advanced Practice Provider of the Year. She is recognized by her peers as exemplary in her commitment to improving the health and well-being of cancer patients.

Dr. Raymond MailhotRaymond Mailhot Vega, MD, MPH, was recognized for outstanding research by the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). His abstract on the topic of breast cancer patient outcomes was selected as Best of ASTRO 2020, a distinction given to the most relevant and highly influential abstracts.

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About This Newsletter

The Precision Newsletter is an electronic-only publication that is distributed by email. Each issue is sent monthly to patients, alumni patients and friends of the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. As the official newsletter of the Institute, the content is compiled and prepared by our communications representative and approved by the editor Stuart Klein, executive director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Special bulletin newsletters may occasionally be prepared when timely topics and new developments in proton therapy occur. If you would like to send a Letter to the Editor, please click here.

 

Keep In Touch

It is easy to stay in touch with us online at floridaproton.org . Look at the top right corner of the homepage for Facebook , Twitter and YouTube icons, click and join us in the social media conversation. Also on the right side of the homepage there is a button for VTOC Patient Portal . Click here to open your secure account, view your records, complete clinical trial questionnaires and communicate with your nurse case manager.

 

Knowing how you are feeling during and after treatment is essential to providing you the best care possible and contributes to the care of future patients.