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

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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

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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.

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

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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

Provision Healthcare Advances Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center Development in Franklin

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Provision Healthcare Advances Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center Development in Franklin with Arrival of Cyclotron

Franklin, Tennessee (July 20, 2017) – – Provision Healthcare is developing another advanced comprehensive Provision CARES Cancer Center in Franklin, TN which will include one of the most promising new cancer therapies now available – proton therapy. The Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center, a key feature of the cancer center, will utilize the latest advancement in proton therapy systems – the ProNova SC360.

Proton Therapy Cancer Treatment Center Planned for Middle Tennessee

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Knoxville, TN (May 27,2015)—Knoxville-based Provision partners with Olympian to bring the Scott Hamilton Proton Therapy Center to Middle Tennessee.

An application for a certificate of need was approved unanimously (9-0) today by the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency for the development of Tennessee’s third proton therapy cancer treatment center. Provision Trust, Inc. and the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation are planning to develop and operate the first Scott Hamilton Proton Therapy Center in the United States in the city of Franklin in Williamson County.

The $109 million not-for-profit center will be open to all qualified and properly credentialed radiation oncologists, regardless of hospital affiliation, bringing proton therapy to the citizens of Middle Tennessee. The proton center will be developed on an 11.6-acre vacant lot near Williamson Medical Center and the existing Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Franklin.
Proton Therapy is one of the most advanced treatments available to cancer patients. Currently, there are only 15 proton therapy centers in the United States. Provision currently owns and operates one of those 14 centers located in Knoxville.

“Proton therapy is an amazing form of cancer treatment that allows patients to receive the life-saving care they need while maintaining a high quality of life at the same time,” said Scott Hamilton, who testified at today’s meeting in Nashville. “I am eager to see it available here in Middle Tennessee. This community leads the nation in so many ways when it comes to healthcare, and this project represents another important opportunity to demonstrate our leadership yet again. I am proud to lend my name and support to this initiative.”

Olympic figure-skating gold medalist Scott Hamilton, a resident of Franklin and a cancer survivor, serves as a board member of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy and formed the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation (SHCF) with a mission to improve cancer patient survivorship by supporting world class cancer research and the highest quality patient treatment and care.

The addition of the first Scott Hamilton Proton Therapy Center in Hamilton’s city of residence is a significant step towards a progressive new vision in cancer advocacy, awareness and treatment. The center will primarily serve 38 Middle Tennessee counties. Its secondary service area extends to West Tennessee and adjoining areas of Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky.

With the Scott Hamilton Proton Center in Franklin, the pediatric center at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (scheduled to open in 2016), and the Provision Center for Proton Therapy in Knoxville, Tennessee will be the only state with three proton therapy centers. Most are located at renowned cancer centers such as the University of Texas’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University. Emory University in Atlanta and the Mayo Clinic plan to open centers this year.

About Proton Therapy
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat various forms of cancer. Proton therapy treats tumors by directing radiation into the tumor site where doses of radiation destroy cancerous cells. Physicians can control the timing and dosage of energy from protons, which allows the maximum energy deposited directly into the tumor, reducing damage to nearby healthy tissue and thus limiting negative side effects. Protons are more precise than traditional radiation therapy, with the proton beam being fine-tuned within millimeters of accuracy to deliver maximum energy within a controlled range of the tumor. Proton treatment can also be combined with radiation, chemotherapy and biological treatments, depending on the cancer type to provide better outcomes and less tissue damage. Also, Proton treatment greatly improves pediatric outcomes.

About the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation
Founded by Olympic gold medalist and cancer survivor Scott Hamilton, the SHCF focuses on creating synergistic alliances between granting foundations, research institutions and cancer treatment centers to better coordinate efforts in the fight against cancer. SHCF focuses on early detection, advanced diagnostics and leading–edge cancer treatment in an effort to significantly improve cure rates and quality of life.