A healthy vision realized: Solinsky Center for Cancer Care is now open

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Left, the Solinsky Family. Courtesy Photo

MANCHESTER, NH – When asked by a visitor to the new Solinsky Center for Cancer Care as to what impact the pandemic had on construction of the project, Elliot Hospital’s Kelli Rafferty says that despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the building project went on” unabated.  Cancer doesn’t wait and neither did the many who made this vision a reality.”

And was she ever correct.

Infusion Bay at the new Solinsky Center. Photo/Chris Dugan

The end result is a truly patient-centric, comprehensive facility when opened earlier this month on the campus of Elliot Hospital (a member of Solution Health). Bolstered by the Hope is Here campaign, a community effort that raised over $12 million dollars, the Center offers cancer patients and their families a “full spectrum of cancer care services” all under one roof.  Prior to the opening of the new Center, those undergoing treatment often had to shuttle between the hospital, labs, and other off-site facilities.  This would be challenging to anyone let alone a person undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments.  By co-locating so many services, the Center gives those in treatment one less obstacle to cross.  

The Healing Garden. Photo/Chris Dugan

Rafferty, Director of Philanthropy and Community Engagement for the Mary and John Elliot Charitable Foundation, has first-hand knowledge of that struggle as part of her late aunt’s battle with cancer. She said that to bring the full scope of services together in one place is a true game changer, not just for the medical aspects but also the critical connections to ancillary services, resources and other patient supports vital to the treatment and healing process.  To that end, the Center boasts among other elements, a state-of-the-art classroom for meetings and support groups (on hold at present due to the pandemic), a meditation room, on-site pharmacy, and a healing garden with benches for patients.

Supported by a staff over about 150, the Center includes small and large features such as pneumatic tubes which can quickly transport information to other parts of the hospital as needed, a dedicated entrance and parking lot (which as anyone who has been to a hospital campus recently knows is a significant factor), lab drawing stations, the ability to order meals,  and infusion chairs (there are 14 bays in all) that can be temperature regulated.  “Some infusion treatments can take as long as 8 hours,” notes Rafferty.  “We try to provide as much comfort as possible.”

Meditation Room. Photo/Chris Dugan

Former cancer patient Don Gonville, whom this writer had the pleasure of meeting last fall, visited the new Center this summer with wife Lucy and came away impressed.  “The results are breathtaking,” said the Hooksett resident.  “The moment you walk into the building and see the floor-to-ceiling glass-walled reception area you have a welcome sense of serenity.”

“Everyone will be thankful for this beautiful new Center, thanks to all who made this happen.”

Beyond its clinical functionality, Rafferty says that many of the aspects of the new Center were designed based on input from patients.  “Getting that level of detail was important to us,” she stated.  “As we wanted to provide the best possible patient experience, that really was critical.”

The construction of the center is not only meant to keep pace with the current demand for services, but also with an eye toward the future.  With a median age of 43, New Hampshire is among the oldest states in the country second only to our neighbors in Maine.  And while its good news that Granite Staters are living longer, the downside is that within the next decade, there is expected to be a 36 percent increase in demand for cancer services due in part to an older population.  Rafferty said that planning for the center, which started in 2015, included forecasting future needs.

Don and Lucy Gonville- Brian Knab, MD-Medical Director, Elliot Regional Cancer Center (right). Courtesy Photo

At the outset, the Center was given a major boost thanks to a significant gift from local philanthropists Grace and Ken Solinsky.  Among other major contributors was Robert Singer and his immediate family in Manchester.  In 2017, Robert’s son, Jordan, passed away at 28 after a courageous five-year battle with epithelioid sarcoma and the family has made a major gift in his memory. “This gift will let him keep giving to the world, to keep filling it with happiness and life and hope, which is the way it should be,” Robert said.

In recognition of their generous gift, the Center’s lobby, the atrium, and a conference room have been named in honor of the Singer family.

To learn more about the Center, please visit: https://www.elliothospital.org/website/solinsky-center-for-cancer-care.php