Executive Director Message

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As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19, your health and safety remain our top priority. We are continuing radiation therapy for our patients, including proton therapy, IMRT and SBRT, with extra measures in place to ensure your well-being.

We are in regular contact with public health officials and University of Florida Health experts on the latest information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reducing the risk of infection. It is our goal to share information and changes that we make as conditions develop and we adapt to protect patients and staff.

As always, I am grateful for the hard work and commitment our team has shown in protecting not only themselves and their families, but their patients and coworkers as well. I appreciate everyone’s cooperation as we all work together to “flatten the curve” and minimize the threat posed by COVID-19.

Thank you and stay safe.

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

New Safety Measures at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute

New Safety Measures at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute

New, enhanced safety measures are in place at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute to ensure every staff member and patient is protected from the threat of COVID-19. We have enacted the following policies:

Limiting Visitors and Caretakers

  • Limit of one caretaker per patient during consult appointments only
  • Caretakers, other than for pediatric patients, are asked to remain outside for all other appointments
  • No children under the age of 12 allowed, unless they are the patient
  • Minimize the amount of supplies you bring into the building
  • Arrive no more than 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment time
  • Leave the building when your appointment is done, please don’t linger
  • On-treatment visits and follow-up visits will be conducted over the phone, unless your case requires a physical examination

Pre-screening

  • Please call 904-588-1800 before you come for your cancer treatment if you have any of the following:
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of Breath
    • Exposure to someone with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis
    • Traveled outside of the United States in the last 14 days
    • Traveled on a cruise ship in the last 14 days
  • When you arrive at the Institute, you and your caretaker will be screened before you enter the building

Cleaning and Sanitizing

  • Increased the frequency of cleaning facilities and equipment, including high-touch surfaces such as door handles, elevator buttons, reception desk and lobby furniture
  • Added more hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the building
  • Reminding all staff, patients and caretakers to practice good hygiene
    • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content
    • Avoid touching your face, especially eyes, nose and mouth

If you have any questions or concerns, please call 904-588-1800 and ask to speak to Brad Robbert. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation, and look forward to providing you with the best of care during this challenging time.

Steps to Protect Your Family

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Now, more than ever, it is important to protect your health and safety, and that of your loved ones. Outside of your visits to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, there are steps you can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here’s how:

Wash Your Hands

Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, sneezing, coughing or being in a public space.

Don’t Touch Your Face

Especially your nose, mouth and eyes. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue whenever possible, or your elbow, if necessary. Wash your hands immediately after.

Practice Social Distancing

Avoid crowds and close contact with people who are sick, keeping a distance of about 6 feet.

Prepare

Stock up on supplies like over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, household items and groceries. Patients: Determine who can provide you with care should your caretaker get sick.

Sanitize Your Space

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home and car, and avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places. Use a tissue or sleeve to cover your finger if you have to touch something.

 

For additional guidance, go to the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: www.cdc.gov

Executive Director Message

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Every New Year brings with it new ideas, new challenges and new promises. As we stand at the very beginning of a new decade, it is appropriate for us to look back at the progress made and our goals for the future.

As a pioneer in proton therapy, we have been and will continue to be at the forefront of new technology, advancements in research and life-saving clinical trials. We’ve treated over 8,500 proton patients, including more than 1,800 pediatric patients. In fact, over the past decade, we have more experience in pediatric proton therapy than anywhere else in the country and remain in the top five proton therapy centers worldwide for number of patients treated.  

With the start of patient treatments in our compact proton therapy gantry, Proteus®ONE, I’m encouraged to know that in 2020 and beyond, we will be able to treat more patients and additional types of cancer.

Our ongoing resolution and promise to you is that we will continue to help patients and future generations become cancer-free with a better quality of life.

 

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Dr. Nancy P. Mendenhall Named UF Health Cancer Center’s 2019 High-Writer

Nancy P. Mendenhall, MD, and Jonathan D. Licht, MD, director of the UF Health Cancer Center

Congratulations to UF Health Proton Therapy Institute medical director, Nancy P. Mendenhall, MD, for receiving the UF Health Cancer Center’s 2019 High-Writer Award. The award recognizes Dr. Mendenhall’s leadership in research and cutting-edge care for her role as the lead investigator of the highest enrolling cancer-relevant clinical trials within the UF Health medical system.

As medical director, Dr. Mendenhall oversees the research department, including several clinical trials to treat more than 20 types of cancer. She and her team of clinical researchers have published over 150 articles in medical journals that report on patient outcomes, treatment techniques and efficacy of proton therapy.

Dr. Mendenhall is currently lead investigator on three clinical trials – an outcome tracking project, a trial investigating quality of life and side effects from proton therapy vs. IMRT for prostate cancer, and a prospective study comparing outcomes of proton and photon radiation in prostate cancer.

To learn more about these and other current clinical trials, click here.

Santa Joe Delivers Donation for Children

Santa made an un-seasonal stop at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute this month to spread more Christmas cheer to last throughout the year. Inspired by the children undergoing cancer treatment and his late brother, the “original” Santa in the family, proton alum Joe McGee works throughout the Holiday season as a professional Santa in the Atlanta area. Joe generously puts aside the proceeds he earns as Santa Joe and has returned to the Institute every January since 2014 to deliver a donation for the Children’s Fund.

This year, Joe mentioned that people have caught on to his mission and have donated above and beyond to benefit what he has named, “The Santa David Children’s Fund,” in honor of his brother. The funds he and his wife, Dawn, have shared over the last five years have directly impacted hundreds of children and their families by supporting various programs, child life staff and activities that aim to make treatment easier for even the youngest of children and allow them to enjoy being kids.

Santa Joe also makes an appearance every December at the Institute to hear the children’s Christmas wishes and deliver presents. 

“If I can bring joy to one precious little one, then it’s all worth it,” said Joe.

Current patients created an original painting to gift Santa Joe for his generosity, time and talent. You can book a Santa Joe appearance in the Atlanta area by contacting him at www.facebook.com/santajoemcgee or email at santajoemcgee@gmail.com.

Research Shows Benefits of Protons

New research shows patients receiving simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation had fewer hospitalizations when they received proton therapy compared to conventional X-ray radiation therapy. What’s more, patients in the study had similar cure rates meaning that proton therapy was found to be as effective as conventional radiation with less costly side effects.

The researchers studied almost 1,500 patients with lung, brain, head and neck, gastrointestinal and gynecological cancers. Even though the patients receiving proton therapy were significantly older, they experienced two-thirds less adverse events associated with hospitalizations during the first 90-days of treatment. Proton patients were also more likely to be able to carry on work-related activities during and after their treatments.

The results of this study are significant because they support the value of proton therapy by demonstrating an improvement in quality of life and outcomes for cancer patients while providing value-based care for Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers. 

The full article can be viewed in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)

AmazonSmile

Did you know that you can help the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute provide life-saving care every time you shop? AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is, when you shop through AmazonSmile and select Florida Proton Therapy Institute, Inc. as your charity organization, Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of the price of your eligible purchases to the Institute. 

If you already shop on Amazon or would like to contribute, please consider bookmarking smile.amazon.com and selecting us as your charity benefactor. From resources for clinical research to funding for patient support programs, every gift big or small can help us deliver the best possible outcomes and experience for our patients.

 

Executive Director Message

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We are capping off the decade with a commencement – the start of patient treatments in our compact proton therapy gantry, Proteus®ONE. This singular event is the culmination of three years of planning, constructing, installing and commissioning. It has been made possible through the efforts of a large team of highly trained men and women from many organizations. I’d like to acknowledge, thank, and congratulate all who were involved in this achievement. Vendors who planned and built the 10,000-sq.-ft. expansion are Walker Architects, Inc., and Gilbane Building Company. The proton therapy system was manufactured, installed and commissioned by IBA. The project was managed by the University of Florida Planning, Design & Construction Division. Special thanks to our staff members Bradlee Robbert, director of operations, and Jason Smith, director of facilities, who managed day-to-day progress of the project and our medical physics team members who managed the commissioning of our newest proton therapy device.

This monumental effort demonstrates the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute’s long-term commitment to help people to be cured of cancer so they can go on to live life to the fullest.

 

Stuart L. Klein

Executive Director

Patient Treatments Begin in Proteus®ONE

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute began treating patients this month in the new, single-room proton therapy system – known as the Proteus®ONE manufactured by IBA – that was installed last fall. It is the centerpiece of a multiphase $39 million expansion and upgrade project started in 2016 that improves treatment efficiency and technology.

The 10,000-square-foot expansion includes both an accelerator, used to speed up the protons, and a treatment gantry equipped with pencil beam scanning – an advanced delivery technique.  The facility now has five treatment rooms – four gantries and one fixed beam room – and two accelerators used to speed up the protons – a synchrocyclotron dedicated to the new treatment room and a cyclotron that powers the original four treatment rooms.

Phase 3 will begin soon and involves the installation of a dedicated pencil beam scanning nozzle in one original gantry. Once completed, estimated in 2021, the Institute will have all five treatment rooms in operation and the ability to treat 25 percent more patients.

The addition of pencil beam scanning enables the treatment of more types of cancer using a thin beam of protons that is steered one layer at a time to conform to the exact shape, size and depth of the treatment area. The Institute has one of the most versatile proton therapy systems in the world. Each delivery technique – double scattering and pencil beam scanning – enables physicians to use the optimal treatment delivery customized for each patient.

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses protons rather than traditional X-rays. It targets tumors and cancer cells more precisely. This means less damage to surrounding tissue which results in a lower risk of side effects and a better quality of life during and after cancer treatment.

The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is the regional resource for proton therapy. It has been open in Jacksonville since 2006 and has delivered 288,000 proton treatments to more than 8,500 cancer patients from Jacksonville and 33 countries.

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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.