By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
As the $8 million Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center celebrates its first year of operation, plans are being finalized to add an oncology infusion unit next year.
Construction of the infusion center is expected to begin in January 2013 and be finished by the end of that year, said Donald Koenig, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Humility of Mary Health Partners, parent company of St. Elizabeth Health Center.
The infusion unit, where intravenous chemotherapy will be done, adds the treatment component to the existing diagnostic services of the Joanie Abdu center, Koenig said.
“I am more than satisfied with the center. It is most gratifying, especially when women tell me they feel comfortable coming here,” Dr. Rashid Abdu said of the breast-care center named in honor of his wife.
“Women are frightened when they come through the door. We removed the traditional hospital environment and made it look more like a spa. We want our patients to feel comfortable, safe and confident,” Dr. Abdu said.
Also, new technology, such as the 3-D mammograms, speeds up accurate diagnoses and eliminates stressful waits for patients to find out if they have a problem, the doctor said.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, he said.
“I’m grateful we have the facility, and to the community for supporting it,” Dr. Abdu said.
About $5 million of the $8 million initial cost of the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center, on the Belmont Avenue Campus of St. Elizabeth, was raised through philanthropic gifts, said James P. Schultis, president of the HMHP Development Foundation.
This is a success story for the Mahoning Valley and shows its spirit of caring, said Schultis, who noted the generosity of Covelli Enterprises in supporting the annual 10K, two-mile walk/run at the Covelli Centre in downtown Youngstown.
The proceeds of the 2012 Panerathon, $200,000, were presented Friday to the HMHP Foundation’s Joanie’s Promise Fund by Covelli representatives Liz Follet and Ashlee Mauti.
Joanie’s Promise is that all women, poor or rich or in between, have access to the most-accurate prevention, early detection, diagnosis and support services available in an environment of compassionate and coordinated care, Dr. Abdu said.
Joanie’s Promise is that all screening expenses will be covered for any woman who demonstrates financial need; transportation will be provided if it is needed, and it will support a dedicated breast cancer community educator, he said.
“I’m very proud of this facility. It is nice to see women come from out-of-town instead of going out-of-town for diagnosis breast care. The whole idea is diagnosing and getting answers quickly to relieve anxiety,” said Robert Shroder, HMHP president and chief executive officer.