Silver Cross dedicates new cancer care center
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org June 19, 2012 11:04PM
Sharon O'Keefe, president of The University of Chicago Medical Center, speaks during the dedication of The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox Tuesday, June 19, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 21, 2012 6:03AM
NEW LENOX — Tuesday was a day Carolyn Czerkies would have been proud of her husband and sons.
Czerkies died in 2000 from myeloma, bone marrow cancer.
On Tuesday, her husband, Ed, and sons David, Scott and Craig cut the ribbon on a pavilion at Silver Cross Hospital that bears her name and will bring hope to thousands of cancer patients.
The Carolyn J. Czerkies Pavilion will house the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, a treatment center which some have called a “University of Chicago South.”
Set to open Monday, the 20,000-square-foot, $21.6 million outpatient cancer treatment center will provide state-of-the-art chemotherapy and radiation therapy as well as access to University of Chicago specialists and their advanced and investigational therapies.
In November 2011 Ed Czerkies donated $1.5 million to Silver Cross Hospital in Carolyn’s memory, which was used to help finance construction of the cancer center.
On Tuesday, Silver Cross Hospital hosted a private luncheon for the Czerkies family and their guests, a dedication ceremony and a public open house.
“Mom ... she would be overwhelmed with probably the fuss maybe of just everyone that was here for this, taking time off work and flying in and driving in from all over the country,” said Craig Czerkies.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment for the hospital and the area,” he said. “It’s a good feeling. It turned out really nice. They did a great job.”
The goal, say hospital officials, was to provide cancer treatment close to home for the thousands of area residents who need it.
When they started planning the cancer center three years ago, there were 4,800 Will County residents who were newly diagnosed with cancer — and 70 percent were traveling out of state or to Chicago for treatment, said Paul Pawlak, president and CEO of Silver Cross Hospital.
“To us, that was simply unacceptable,” he said.
Through the partnership with the University of Chicago, patients will have local access to clinical trials, many of which were developed by physician scientists at the university.
“Together, we make an awesome, very powerful team to bring the best cancer care to Will County,” said Sharon O’Keefe, president of the University of Chicago Medical Center.
The center will also offer a TruBeam new-generation linear accelerator system, which delivers targeted radiation therapy.
“This is really a wonderful and very unique blend of academic medicine in a community center,” said Anne McCall, medical director for radiation oncology and an assistant professor at the University of Chicago.
“I’m ecstatic. This is a dream come true,” said Lawrence Schilder, medical director and clinical associate of hematology/oncology. “We are truly integrated. The only difference is location. This is, I think, a unique model that is not replicated anywhere in the city or suburbs.”
While the Czerkies family has donated to the Mayo Clinic, International Myeloma Foundation and a Joliet Junior College scholarship program in Carolyn’s memory, the cancer center is their most visible tribute.
“We love it. She would have been happy,” Craig said.