Jack’s Place: Celebrating Five Years at Shaw Regional Cancer Center
Dr. Patricia Hardenbergh, a prominent radiation oncologist from Duke University, was recruited over ten years ago to join our mountain community and treat patients at Shaw Regional Cancer Center. It wasn't long after she started that a small group of community members took interest and began to meet regularly with Dr. Hardenbergh. They wanted to learn how the community could partner with Shaw and spread the word to other communities of the excellent facilities and treatment options available here. This group soon became know as the Shaw Outreach Team (SOT).
Initially the SOT met with Dr. Hardenbergh monthly, but it didn't take long to realize that patients coming from afar needed a place to stay during their treatment. When a patient told Dr. Hardenbergh that he was going to sleep in his car because he could not afford a hotel room, the SOT quickly agreed that convenient, comfortable and affordable accommodations were crucial for patients coming from other communities and for the long term success of Shaw.
The SOT decided the best solution was to build a cancer caring lodge, right next to the cancer center. The SOT formed a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2004 and started the process to build what would become Jack's Place.
After a great deal of research, including visits to all types of "caring houses", attending conferences, obtaining county approval, neighborhood consent and getting the hospital's approval to use the land, the hard-working members of the SOT were getting closer to starting fundraising. Ann Roecker of Roecker Consulting Group was hired to guide the fundraising campaign and every member of the team started with his or her own gift to the project.
R.A. Nelson & Associates was selected to manage the design and construction after owner Chupa Nelson graciously offered to join the effort. Many local contractors and businesses also worked at cost or no cost and donated products and furniture. Vail Resorts generously filled the need until Jack's Place was operational by offering vacant employee housing to patients who needed overnight accommodations.
The Shaw Outreach Team's fundraising resulted in $3.4 million to build the facility and an additional $1.3 million was raised for an endowment to ensure patients who could not pay for their lodging weren't turned away.
"The Shaw Outreach Team is a group full of amazingly resourceful and passionate people," said Doris Kirchner, president and CEO of Vail Valley Medical Center. "Without them and grateful patients like Harold and Mary Louise Shaw, the Shaw Regional Cancer Center would be a very different place and we are very grateful for their commitment."
The Shaw Outreach Team decided to name the caring house "Jack's Place" to honor Dr. Jack Eck. "Dr. Eck's amazing compassion and history of caring for so many individuals, in this valley and beyond, is honorable," said Suzy Donohue, a founding member of the SOT. "Medical care and facilities in the valley would not be what they are today without Jack's can-do spirit and dedication. The SOT expects Jack's Place to be a facility where patients come for support, care, friendship and a safe haven; similar to Jack's own patient philosophy and practice."
Jack's Place officially opened its doors in March 2007 and has provided over 5,000 nights stay in the five years it has been open. On June 22, 2012 the past and present members of the Shaw Outreach Team, along with other members of the community that made Jack's Place a reality, celebrated at the cancer caring house.
SOT after Jack's Place
The Shaw Outreach Team didn't stop once Jack's Place was completely funded and operational. The group has since taken on additional projects including purchasing the $2.4 million PET/CT Scanner in 2009, which provides images that pinpoint the location of cancer and allows a more complete diagnosis. The group also raised funds through events to purchase a Tissue Analyzer in 2011, used to more precisely identify cancerous tumors and reduce a patient's time under anesthesia. The Shaw Outreach Team coordinates the annual Hike, Wine & Dine for Jack's Place and has collaborated with the Women of Cordillera Pad the Bra annual fundraiser.
Next Steps for Shaw Regional Cancer
Shaw Regional Cancer Center, which was created as a result of a generous gift from grateful patients Harold and Mary Louise Shaw, provides exceptional cancer care to patients from Eagle County and beyond. The cancer center offers clinical trials, the latest in diagnostic and treatment technologies and Duke and Harvard trained cancer specialists among many other talented professionals. And now the team of expert medical providers at Shaw have their eyes on a new piece of technology - an Image Guided Linear Accelerator. The new Linear Accelerator will replace the current one and will increase the medical team's ability to more efficiently locate tumors before radiation is given to cancerous tissue. The goal of radiation is to damage the cancer cells beyond repair while minimizing damage to normal, healthy cells. The new Linear Accelerator decreases the set-up and improves the delivery of treatment to enhance patient care at Shaw.
"As cancer treatment evolves so does Shaw Regional Cancer Center," said Peggy Carey, vice president of oncology at Shaw. "We continually take steps to make sure the patients at Shaw are getting the best treatment possible and the new linear accelerator is a prime example of that."
For more information about Jack's Place or the Shaw Regional Cancer Center visit www.shawcancercenter.com. Shaw Regional Cancer Center is a service of Vail Valley Medical Center, a nonprofit medical center.