A decade ago, cancer patients in Waterford, Ireland faced hours of grueling, daily travel to Dublin or Cork if they needed radiation therapy—or they simply skipped their treatments. That’s when local doctors and the government’s Health Service Executive turned to UPMC to meet the need for an advanced cancer treatment center in rural southeast Ireland.
As the UPMC Whitfield Cancer Centre celebrates its 10th anniversary on Dec. 6, more than 17,000 patients have been treated there with state-of-the-art radiation therapy close to home. Staff, physicians and more than 100 guests gathered to mark the occasion at Waterford’s Whitfield Clinic, the private hospital that houses the cancer center.
“As UPMC CancerCenter’s first international location, the UPMC Whitfield facility has played a special role in demonstrating that our world-class cancer care and the expertise of our clinicians could be extended far beyond Pittsburgh,” said Dwight Heron, M.D., director of radiation services at UPMC CancerCenter. “By working together with our colleagues in Ireland, we’ve achieved the highest standards of quality and ensured that patients in the southeast no longer have to leave the region for cutting-edge cancer care.”
“This partnership has connected us to the expertise, technology, education and treatment capabilities of one of the world’s largest cancer treatment networks, with more than 40 centers,” noted Dayle Hacking, M.D., a radiation oncologist at UPMC Whitfield and UPMC Ireland’s medical director. “This facility is now widely viewed as an asset to the community, and we continue to improve it.”
Recent renovations at the UPMC Whitfield include new outpatient clinics for follow-up appointments, a bright and airy waiting area within the radiotherapy department, the addition of a stretcher bay for patients coming from other regional hospitals, and new office space for physicians and administrators that encourages collaboration and efficiency. The center is newly decorated with Irish landscapes painted by director of operations Catriona McDonald.
UPMC Whitfield is based on UPMC’s “hub-and-spoke” model in which a wide range of oncology services are offered in local communities with support from UPMC’s academic and clinical hub at the Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh. Based on its high quality standards and patient safety, UPMC Whitfield has been accredited three times by the Joint Commission International since 2008.
UPMC International recently announced a joint venture to own and operate an advanced radiotherapy center in Cork with Bon Secours Health System. UPMC also operates a radiation center in Rome and works with partners in Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Colombia, Russia, Myanmar and other nations to improve cancer care worldwide.