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Hospital Leases Medical Space

Providence Holy Cross has leased space in its Mission Hills campus’ cancer center to a new operator that is managing the radiation therapy center following the termination of the hospital’s previous joint venture, which brought staff from UCLA Radiation Oncology to the facility. Medical management company Vantage Oncology and Valley Radiotherapy Associates Medical Group partnered to form Holy Cross Radiation Therapy Center, and officially took over operations Sept. 4. Dr. Nancy Ellerbroek, who was co-director of the radiation therapy center in this location from 1993 to 2009, returned to the location as medical director after a three-year absence. “I’m really happy about it,” Ellerbroek said. “I’ve known all the doctors around here, and it’s really just a perfect fit.” The change in management was initiated in June, when the hospital issued a Request for Proposals, according to Milton Hinkle, vice president of operations for Vantage Oncology, a Manhattan Beach-based company that owns and operates 46 radiation oncology centers nationwide. The free-standing building that houses the cancer center now is filled by a medical oncologist who leases roughly 6,000 square feet in the building, and the radiation therapy center, which occupies 6,100 square feet, according to Hinkle. “That way it’s seamless to the patient,” Hinkle said. “They can come to the center and receive all of their treatment.” Changing the practice Selected by the hospital in mid-summer, the agreement was part of a larger restructuring of the health care provider’s cancer care facilities. “We had another partnership but it wasn’t financially or operationally sound for either side. It just wasn’t a good fit,” said Providence Health & Services spokeswoman Patricia Aidem. “It was a mutual decision.” The agreement officially ended Sept. 1, long after the RFP was issued for possible replacement lessees, and Vantage was signed to a five year lease, with an expected five year extension. According to Hinkle, the physicians and management are determined that this be a long-term arrangement. “We’re committed to a long-term presence in the community,” Hinkle said. Aidem also stressed that these sorts of leases are common at Providence facilities. “At Providence Saint Joseph’s campus in Burbank, the whole top floor is leased,” she noted. Additionally, Providence Holy Cross Radiation Therapy Center in Santa Clarita has closed, and patients have been referred to the Holy Cross campus. Aidem said the move adds to patient convenience because all of the cancer treatment services are under one roof. The Santa Clarita Radiation Therapy Center, managed by Vantage Oncology, remains open and will accept patients from the closed facility. “While you want patients to be able to get treatment near to their home, you also want them to be able to get all the services they need in one place,” she said. During her three years away from Holy Cross, Ellerbroek worked at the Santa Clarita facility, along with a location in Sherman Oaks. The new practice has 10 employees, including the three physicians on staff: Ellerbroek, Dr. Robert Zimmerman and Dr. Lauren VanderSpeck. Making changes For Ellerbroek, the return brings a certain new opportunity. While much of her medical career was spent in the building, she recalls with wonder how she and other physicians were able to keep the center up and running after the Northridge earthquake, when parts of the building were unstable. “It really is amazing the things that we can do now,” she said. “For example, the electronic records system that we’ve adopted here now is just fantastic. It clears up so much space and I can get to any file so quickly. I can find out the information that other doctors need about the patient in just — well, super quickly.” The new medical director has plans for turning rooms that are going to be freed from records storage into more space for patients, and Vantage has also brought in new equipment for the center, and upgraded other existing systems. A new mini CT-scan machine that can present a clearer 3D image and a new RapidArc radiation machine that Ellerbroek says will bring greater precision to treatments are some of the upgrades. Ellerbroek noted that she is helping the center look toward a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment, using the electronic medical records system to be able to confer with other doctors quickly and to use the tumor board approach, in which the radiation oncologist confers with a patient’s medical and surgical oncologists as well to create one treatment plan. “We also really want to focus on healthy survivorship and follow people, really for the rest of their life,” she said. This article was corrected on Oct. 1, 2012 to reflect that Santa Clarita Valley Radiation Therapy Center, managed by Vantage Oncology, remains open while Providence Holy Cross Radiation Therapy Center has closed.

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