New proton therapy cancer center to open across from Williamson Medical Center

By

A cancer treatment center specializing in proton therapy, an increasingly popular treatment, is set to open in the summer of 2018.

Provision Healthcare, a clinical provider and developer of cancer treatments, will open a Provision CARES Cancer Center on Carothers Parkway, across from Williamson Medical Center, said Dr. Terry Douglass, Ph.D., the executive chair of Provision.

Proton therapy, said Douglass, is a form of advanced radiation technology that impairs the DNA of cancer cells and causes them to die.

Unlike traditional radiation methods, a machine called a cyclotron is used to pinpoint cancer cells, targeting diseased cells while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue.

“It’s like using a rifle compared to a shotgun,” Douglass said of the therapy.

“We developed a new technology that is a lower cost, that uses smaller and lighter technology,” Douglass said of the 200-ton machine which is used to treat cancer.

In traditional chemotherapy or radiation techniques, side effects are common. But with proton therapy, Douglass said side effects are less pronounced; he also said numerous data support the use of proton therapy, including better long-term outcomes for patients.

The treatment is becoming more common for illnesses like prostate cancer, but studies show mixed results, not conclusively supporting the treatment as better than traditional radiation.

Proton therapy centers are popping up across the country. According to the National Association of Proton Therapy, there are currently 26 proton therapy centers in operation with 11 under construction or in development.

The Franklin location will be the company’s second center in Tennessee. The original campus opened in January of 2014 in Knoxville. Planned expansions in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida, are in the works, said Douglass.

Of the decision to be based in Franklin, Douglass said the surrounding health care centers and climate of technological innovation made it a good choice, noting Tennessee Oncology and Vanderbilt as two top-notch cancer treatment centers.

Douglass said the spot on Carothers Parkway, in a central location with easy access to the interstate, would make it easy for patients from Tennessee, as well as Kentucky and Alabama, to reach the center.

“These patients are here from four to eight weeks. They get five treatments Monday through Friday, then they have the weekend off,” he said. “We were looking for a site that would be amenable to the patients.”

“Being near the Williamson County Medical Center was very important to us as well,” he continued. “Franklin has just become a hub of healthcare services.”

In addition to the center, the company will build 72,000 square feet of office space, which Douglass said will house medical companies including Tennessee Oncology and drug discovery and trials for the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center.

Mary Lou DuBois, the president of Provision Health Partners, said the location will open some time this summer, and will hire 75 to 80 employees to staff the center.

“We’re about developing a culture of care that is totally focused on the patient and walking through and with them as they’re on their journey,” she said of center’s mission.

In 2005, Provision Healthcare was founded by Douglass in Knoxville. The organization operates as a for-profit healthcare solutions company, while both the Knoxville and Franklin cancer centers are non-profits.

“New proton therapy cancer center to open across from Williamson Medical Center.” Brooke Wanser, Brentwood HomePage

It’s like NASA landed in Franklin: Proton-therapy center nears completion

By

After nearly two years of construction, Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville is nearing completion of its $100 million cancer-treatment center — minus some areas of the roof.

That’s because crews still need to lower a 28-foot-diameter gantry — a structure about the size of an above-ground pool that rotates around a patient during therapy, allowing treatment from different angles —into place at the 45,000-square-foot facility.

PHOTO BY JOEL STINNETT

It will be the second center for Knoxville-based Provision CARES, which provides proton-radiation treatment for cancer patients. The Franklin campus will also include a 72,000-square-foot medical office building at the cost of $18 million. Both buildings are being funded by tax-exempt bonds issued by the Williamson County Industrial Development Board and are expected to be completed in the summer of 2018.

The gantry, however, is relatively light lifting over at the 11-acre site. In July, a 220-ton particle accelerator, almost the same weight as the Statue of Liberty, was delivered to the facility. Rod Manning, service and maintenance manager at Provision CARES subsidiary ProNova Solutions, said the massive piece of equipment, called a cyclotron, was lowered into place by a 440-ton crane, the largest in Tennessee.

“It’s like NASA landed in Franklin,” Manning said.

Proton therapy delivers a high dose of radiation through a beam and, according to Provision CARES Director of Medical Physics Marc Blakey, has fewer side effects than traditional X-ray radiation.

Blakey said he can plot exactly where cancer is in the body and attack it while sparing surrounding tissue.

“The beam enters and only goes as deep as the tumor. It doesn’t exit the body,” Blakey said. “This allows for a higher dose because we can avoid critical structures.”

The cyclotron acts as the engine in the process, producing beams of protons into one of three gantries enclosed with two-meter thick doors made of lead-reinforced concrete. Most treatments only last a few minutes; Blakey said the center could facilitate up to 90 patients a day.

The two-story building will also house work areas for Gilda’s Club of Tennessee and Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation. Hamilton is on the board at Provision CARES and will have an office at the center.

Tara Mullaney, vice president at Provision CARES, said the inside of the building is designed to feel like a hotel more than a medical facility. Each dressing room will be outfitted with TVs and will have their own themes. The waiting room will a kids play area and a large bell to be rung every time a patient completes the entirety of their treatment.

“Cancer patients are going through enough so we want to make them as comfortable as possible,” Mullaney said. “They are coming here every day so they get to know the staff and feel welcomed.”

Mullaney said that while proton treatment isn’t new — the first center opened in the 1990s — it’s still not widely known. She said that’s because the initial investment for equipment is so high and not all insurance plans cover the therapy, where treatment costs about $2,000 per visit.

The word, however, is spreading, Mullaney said. The Franklin facility will be the 26th proton-treatment center in the nation, up from 13 five years ago, and Provision CARES has plans to build three more centers, she said. Those will be in Orlando, New Orleans and China.

Mullaney said ProNova, a Provision subsidiary, is also designing ways to decrease the size of equipment, therefore making it less expensive to access proton treatment.

“We are always thinking of ways to get better,” Mullaney said. “Franklin costs considerably less than the center in Knoxville because of the reduction in size of equipment and smaller footprint.”

“It’s like NASA landed in Franklin:’ Proton-therapy center nears completion.” Joel Stinnett, Nashville Business Journal

East Tennessee plays role in atoms for war, for peace

By

Back when the country’s great minds of science were cloistered in secret laboratories, manipulating the power of atoms into a weapon that would stop the world’s second great war, they were also dreaming of a time when such knowledge would be used for peace.

That work, carried on a few ridges and valleys away from Provision Center for Proton Therapy, now touches the lives of each patient who comes here for cancer treatment. (more…)

Provision looks back on 2016

Look back at 2016, ahead to the future

By

The year 2016 has been a year of significant progress for Provision, and one that will enable us to aggressively pursue our “mission of developing innovative healthcare solutions focused on improving patient care and clinical outcomes and developing support for research, education and charitable causes.” This year has also been a year which tested our commitment, courage and resolve—and we passed the test.

Here is a summary of some of our key developments… (more…)

Big news for Provision—and cancer patients!

By

Just four years after launching its research and development process, Provision Healthcare’s ProNova Solutions division has received FDA 510(k) clearance for its SC360 proton therapy system. This is the first and only compact 360 degree pencil beam scanning proton therapy system capable of treating patients at all angles without moving the patient, enabling the most efficient clinical workflows, improved accuracy of treatment, and patient comfort.

The first ProNova system is expected to be used for patient treatment at the Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center in Knoxville, Tennessee next year. (more…)

Provision heads to ASTRO

By

At the premiere conference for radiation oncology, Provision will unveil plans and a progress report for expansion and release results of a patient survey that confirms proton therapy’s benefit for cancer patients.

The annual meeting for the American Society for Radiation Oncology, or ASTRO, begins Sunday in Boston. The conference attracts more than 10,000 attendees from the radiation oncology community—from physicians to instrument makers. Provision Healthcare is an event sponsor and be at the trade show – Booth #12091. (more…)

Provision grows proton therapy in China

By

China is excited about proton therapy and for good reason.

Officially, 3.5 million Chinese per year are diagnosed with cancer. And 2.2 million people die of cancer, according to the World Health Organization. In the U.S., 70 percent of those with cancer survive five years after treatment. In China, just 30 percent survive to their five-year anniversary. Treatment is hard to come by—there is less than one conventional radiation therapy machine per million people in China compared to more than 12 machines per million in the U.S., for example. And in China diagnosis often happens too late. (more…)

French doctor high on Provision, ProNova

By

Georges Noël’s interest in proton therapy hearkens back to the time when he met Provision Chief Medical Physicist Niek Schreuder in 1997 at a conference in Paris.

Georges, a radiation oncologist and widely published author, wrote a paper in 2005 declaring, “proton is the future.”

“That is not a new idea for me,” said Noël, director of the radiobiological lab at Centre Paul Strauss, a cancer treatment and research facility, in Strasbourg, France. Last year, he took a sabbatical from his position, to research proton therapy with plans to set up a center there.

He came to the U.S. to research protons, starting with a six month stint in Boston. He then decided to expand his experiences to other centers, taking jaunts to Jacksonville, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Shreveport and San Diego. He spent the last two months of his year-long tour observing and writing his report at Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

He already was familiar with Provision. In addition to his long-time relationship with Schreuder, journal articles by Medical Director Dr. Marcio Fagundes were regular reference points. He also came to learn about ProNova Solutions and the new proton therapy machines being developed here.

“I came to compare machines from different companies and show in my report what is the best one,” he says.

After his time here, Noël says he is absolutely sold on the ProNova product.

“It’s a device to treat patients and to treat patients better,” he said. “I think ProNova is at least five years ahead of the competition. I think this company is the future of protons.”

Noël said he appreciated the close collaboration among clinicians and ProNova development staff as well as the attention paid to the comfort of both the patients and the technicians in the proton therapy equipment’s design.

And, at Provision and ProNova, everyone has the same goal, he said.

“To think that what the physician wants, the physicist wants, what the technician wants is for proton therapy to work better,” he said.

That mindset makes ProNova machines attractive for an institution that is focused on innovation as well as treatment. Noël said he believes the equipment will be most compatible with whatever research track he might want to take, whether testing better treatments, developing databases or coming up with a dose calculation system. ProNova’s entrepreneurial approach to making a new and better machine makes it ideal for making advancements in the field of proton therapy.

“To create a company from nothing,” he said, “that’s always marvelous to me.”

 

 

 

Provision & ProNova Join Other Proton Industry Leaders at 2014 Conference

By

Proton therapy patient and prostate cancer survivor, Bill Barbour, was a guest speaker at the 2014 National Proton Conference in Washington, D.C.  Barbour is a proton therapy advocate that educates and shares his experience with others.  See his story in the video above.

The National Proton Conference in Washington, D.C., was a convergence of proton therapy community leaders, clinicians, advocates and vendors.  The NPC is the premier proton therapy event of the year where the best of the best in the proton community was on hand.  Highlights of the event included a presentation by Christopher Pericak of The Advisory Board Company about the state of the proton therapy marketplace in today’s health care reform climate.  Proton pioneer Dr. James Cox kicked off the conference with a keynote speech about “where we are headed.”  Dr. Elise Berliner, from the U.S. federal agency on health research and quality (AHRQ), along with Provision’s own Scott Warwick, addressed patient registries.   Joe Matteo educated to attendees about the advances of ProNova’s compact SC360 proton therapy system.  Provision Center for Proton Therapy’s medical director, Dr. Marcio Fagundes joined a panel of experts on treating breast cancer with proton therapy and Niek Schreuder, Provision chief medical physicist, spoke on the innovations in design, equipment and engineering.  Additionally, the economics of proton therapy, planning, developing and launching a proton center, plus treating breast, head and neck cancers, and much more was presented.

Another highlight was the announcement of the results of a 2014 NAPT/Dobson DaVanzo report on an in-depth “quality of life” survey of nearly 4,000 prostate patients treated with proton therapy at multiple centers across the U.S.  The conference was a huge success and an important collaboration of clinical and technological efforts in the proton industry.