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Jack's Place: Celebrating Five Years at Shaw Regional Cancer Center

Lindsay Warner Vail Valley Medical Center

Dr. Patricia Hardenbergh a prominent radiation oncologist fromDuke University was recruited over ten years ago to join ourmountain community and treat patients at Shaw Regional CancerCenter. It wasn't long after she started that a small group ofcommunity members took interest and began to meet regularly withDr. Hardenbergh. They wanted to learn how the community couldpartner with Shaw and spread the word to other communities of theexcellent facilities and treatment options available here. Thisgroup soon became know as the Shaw Outreach Team (SOT).

Initially the SOT met with Dr. Hardenbergh monthly but itdidn't take long to realize that patients coming from afar needed aplace to stay during their treatment. When a patient told Dr.Hardenbergh that he was going to sleep in his car because he couldnot afford a hotel room the SOT quickly agreed that convenientcomfortable and affordable accommodations were crucial for patientscoming from other communities and for the long term success ofShaw.

The SOT decided the best solution was to build a cancer caringlodge right next to the cancer center. The SOT formed a 501(c)3nonprofit organization in 2004 and started the process to buildwhat would become Jack's Place.

After a great deal of research including visits to all types of"caring houses" attending conferences obtaining county approvalneighborhood consent and getting the hospital's approval to use theland the hard-working members of the SOT were getting closer tostarting fundraising. Ann Roecker of Roecker Consulting Group washired to guide the fundraising campaign and every member of theteam started with his or her own gift to the project.

R.A. Nelson & Associates was selected to manage the designand construction after owner Chupa Nelson graciously offered tojoin the effort. Many local contractors and businesses also workedat cost or no cost and donated products and furniture. Vail Resortsgenerously filled the need until Jack's Place was operational byoffering vacant employee housing to patients who needed overnightaccommodations.

The Shaw Outreach Team's fundraising resulted in $3.4 million tobuild the facility and an additional $1.3 million was raised for anendowment to ensure patients who could not pay for their lodgingweren't turned away.

"The Shaw Outreach Team is a group full of amazingly resourcefuland passionate people" said Doris Kirchner president and CEO ofVail Valley Medical Center. "Without them and grateful patientslike Harold and Mary Louise Shaw the Shaw Regional Cancer Centerwould be a very different place and we are very grateful for theircommitment."

The Shaw Outreach Team decided to name the caring house "Jack'sPlace" to honor Dr. Jack Eck. "Dr. Eck's amazing compassion andhistory of caring for so many individuals in this valley andbeyond is honorable" said Suzy Donohue a founding member of theSOT. "Medical care and facilities in the valley would not be whatthey are today without Jack's can-do spirit and dedication. The SOTexpects Jack's Place to be a facility where patients come forsupport care friendship and a safe haven similar to Jack's ownpatient philosophy and practice."

Jack's Place officially opened its doors in March 2007 and hasprovided over 5000 nights stay in the five years it has been open.On June 22 2012 the past and present members of the Shaw OutreachTeam along with other members of the community that made Jack'sPlace a reality celebrated at the cancer caring house.

SOT after Jack's Place
The Shaw Outreach Team didn't stop once Jack's Place wascompletely funded and operational. The group has since taken onadditional projects including purchasing the $2.4 million PET/CTScanner in 2009 which provides images that pinpoint the locationof cancer and allows a more complete diagnosis. The group alsoraised funds through events to purchase a Tissue Analyzer in 2011used to more precisely identify cancerous tumors and reduce apatient's time under anesthesia. The Shaw Outreach Team coordinatesthe annual Hike Wine & Dine for Jack's Place and hascollaborated with the Women of Cordillera Pad the Bra annualfundraiser.

Next Steps for Shaw Regional CancerCenter
Shaw Regional Cancer Center which was created as a result of agenerous gift from grateful patients Harold and Mary Louise Shawprovides exceptional cancer care to patients from Eagle County andbeyond. The cancer center offers clinical trials the latest indiagnostic and treatment technologies and Duke and Harvard trainedcancer specialists among many other talented professionals. And nowthe team of expert medical providers at Shaw have their eyes on anew piece of technology - an Image Guided Linear Accelerator. Thenew Linear Accelerator will replace the current one and willincrease the medical team's ability to more efficiently locatetumors before radiation is given to cancerous tissue. The goal ofradiation is to damage the cancer cells beyond repair whileminimizing damage to normal healthy cells. The new LinearAccelerator decreases the set-up and improves the delivery oftreatment to enhance patient care at Shaw.

"As cancer treatment evolves so does Shaw Regional CancerCenter" said Peggy Carey vice president of oncology at Shaw. "Wecontinually take steps to make sure the patients at Shaw aregetting the best treatment possible and the new linear acceleratoris a prime example of that."

For more information about Jack's Place or the Shaw RegionalCancer Center visit Regional Cancer Center is a service of Vail Valley MedicalCenter a nonprofit medical center.