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Cancer center proposed for Riverton site

Non-profit cancer center proposed for Riverton site

Mar 15, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Riverton is set to be the home of a new non-profit cancer treatment center.

Dr. Keith Mills, a Gillette oncologist who founded the Wyoming Cancer Foundation, plans to bring the People's Cancer Center of Fremont County to a location near the Help for Health Hospice Center on College View Drive.

Citizens gathered in a room at Riverton's Holiday Inn to hear more about the plans for the center , which is intended to provide treatment for cancer patients while eliminating the two-hour or more commute to other cancer centers in the state.

Mills saw the need for a shorter trip after he had to make the long drives several times to attend to patients. "Fremont County is the only community that does not have a radiation cancer center," Mills said. "I just somehow couldn't get beyond that."

The center would extend services to families of patients, provide screenings, radiation and chemotherapy, numerous expert involvement and, Mills said, "incorporate the latest technology."

In collaborating with CWC and other community supporters, Mills hopes the center will facilitate treatment for the estimated 300 cancer patients expected in Fremont County by 2015.

"We're going to be seeing more cancers of different types," he said. "There's no joy in someone having cancer, (but) we thrill at the opportunity to help others."

Riverton Memorial Hospital board member and retired physician Dr. Roger Gose expressed concern about a new radiation therapy center to open in Lander in 2014 by Rocky Mountain Oncology.

"I don't see this (as a) competition," Mills said. "It's just two organizations doing their best work. We would be at the college with nursing students."

Considering the number of patients expected, Gose was interested in how well the center would do with another competing center opening.

Mills said Riverton's new facility would have the advantage of being a non-profit center and provide educational tools for patients and families.

"In this new age of health care reform, we're very concerned about not duplicating certain services," Gose responded, adding that both hospitals in Riverton and Lander are already trying their best to not duplicate services.

Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness was supportive of the center, which he said would make a big difference in the lives of the patients and their families that live in Riverton and surrounding communities.

"Anything that we can do to help people with cancer, we should do it," he said. "This community has recognized this need for years."

Mills will be speaking at the Riverton City Council meeting March 19.

The project would cost about $8 million. After the foundation raises half, it will pursue state grants and corporate and private donations.

A fundraiser event, the Cattle Baron's Ball, takes place March 16 in the Fremont Center at the Fremont County Fairgrounds at 5:30 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the Tough Enough to Help Cancer Fund and Help for Health Van. The new center will be affiliated with the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

Mills and others visited the proposed site on Friday afternoon.

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