SPRINGFIELD – With Mercy Medical Center in the midst of the silent portion of a capital campaign for the Sister Caritas Cancer Center, a Wilbraham couple has come along and made a lot of noise.
At a March 23 press event, Daniel Moen, president and CEO of the Sisters of Providence Health System, announced the receipt of a $1 million “challenge gift” made by Cynthia and William Lyons to support the $15 million, 26,000-square foot expansion of the cancer center.
“I can’t tell you enough how much the relationship with Bill and Cindy has meant to us. They are extraordinary people. This is the largest gift from an individual this organization has ever received,” Moen said. “What Bill and Cindy are hoping is that this spurs others in the community to do even more [and] to help us to a greater level than they may have considered before.”
Moen added the Lyons’ own experience with the Sister Caritas Cancer Center was a catalyst to the gift, which will be split over several years.
The Lyons family did not attend the press conference, by their choice, according to Moen, but in press materials, Cynthia Lyons issued a statement praising the Sisters of Providence.
“We have been inspired by the high level of care and compassion that runs throughout the Sisters of Providence Health System,” she said. “The work being done at the Sister Caritas Cancer Center is especially exciting.”
Moen added that with growing costs for health care providers, strong support from the community is not just a luxury.
“Capital is tight for hospitals these days. Hospitals are under a lot of pressure to keep the cost of care down, to provide the very best patient care experience as well, so we really are relying on our community to help with projects like this. We can’t do it alone. We have significant capital needs throughout the system,” he said. “So these gifts mean so much to us, but even more, they mean so much to our patients and our caregivers.”
The addition, for which construction is already underway, would combine current radiation oncology facilities with new medical oncology services.
“This is about more than bricks and mortar; it’s about creating a place of healing for patients and family members and a great place for our wonderful oncology staff to provide that,” Moen said. “This new space … is going to bring our services together. It’s going to bring our very talented radiation oncology staff together with medical oncology staff and that really is where cancer is these days. It’s a multi-disciplinary effort to beat cancer.”
Dr. Philip Glynn, director of the Oncology Department, explained the expansion was much needed in order for Mercy Medical Center to stay current with today’s treatment of cancer and the addition of a medical oncology facility will help the center offer new options.
“In medical oncology, there is a constantly evolving knowledge of the molecular biology of the cancer cell. That’s leading to newer therapies that provide much more effective, less toxic treatment, and, for some people, it’s going to result in cure,” he said.
Sister Mary Caritas Geary praised the current radiation oncology staff for creating an environment of compassion and professionalism that helped make the expansion and gifts, such as the one by the Lyons possible.
“The radiation oncologists at Mercy could work any place,” she said. “They are outstanding and any one of them could find a position at any of the major teaching facilities in the country, but they choose to stay at Mercy because there’s something special here.”
Cynthia Lyons expressed excitement with the prospect of the service that would be offered at the expanded cancer center.
“We are so impressed with the new leadership and forward thinking of Mercy Medical Center and its oncology center. The commitment and vision of the physicians directly involved in the growth of the cancer center speaks to the investment of the hospital community,” she said. “The new plan unites state of the art treatment, research and clinical trial opportunities with Mercy’s trademark mission driven qualities of compassion and respect for the individual.
“This expansion is important because directly or indirectly cancer touches all of us. People really do want to be part of something that is successful and meaningful. We sincerely hope our gift inspires others in the community to give as well,” she concluded.
The capital campaign’s silent phase has garnered approximately $4 million, Moen said.
Those interested in donating can call 748-9920 or visit www.mercycares.com.