Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
The regional cancer center being constructed in Havre is closing in on completion, and funding for the building received a significant shot in the arm but is still far from complete, a spokesperson said. “We received a donation from an anonymous donor for $100,000,” said Christen Obresley, executive director of Northern Montana Health Care Foundation, Inc. “ We still need a lot of help.” While that puts the fundraising total near threequarters of a million dollars, it still leaves some $450,000 to go, she said. The Hi-Line Sletten Cancer Center, scheduled to be completed next fall, is being built in partnership between Northern Montana Health Care, the Northern Montana Health Care Foundation and the Sletten Cancer Institute in Great Falls. It will provide state-of-the-art cancer treatment for Montana residents from Chester to Glasgow, who typically have to travel to Great Falls or farther to receive treatment. Obresley said the foundation has committed to raising $1.2 million of the total $6.5 million needed for the project. All of the $1.2 million raised locally will go toward the cost of erecting the building in Havre, she said. The Sletten Cancer Institute is providing the equipment for the facility and will operate it. The area has come together to help with the foundation’s fundraising, with more activities scheduled to help reach the goal. “It’s kids, it’s seniors, it’s communities, it’s all kinds of people,” Obresley said. Examples include the students at Sunnyside Primary School in Havre donating the proceeds of their annual Inventor’s Fair to the fundraiser for the center, students from Chinoook and Havre high schools organizing a fundraising dance and Hi-Line residents putting on the Men Who Cook for Women Who Wine last year and organizing the fundraiser again for March 29 at 6 p.m. at the Hingham Community Center. Obresley said she is looking for people to tell about the project and the fundraiser she and NMH’s public affairs officer, Kathie Newell, staffed a display at the Harlem Seed Show last weekend and to show the nineminute video that explains the need and purpose of the center. “It doesn’t touch your heart until you see the video and hear about the cancer center,” she said, “and there are some tough questions.” The video tells the story of Havre native and cancer survivor Katie Maroney Jones. Jones was diagnosed with the disease at age 15 and says in the video she took countless trips over some 17 months to Great Falls for diagnosis and treatment, physically ill on the way down and back. Jones and her parents, Tim and Jan Maroney, say in the video that being able to have treatment in Havre would have made the ordeal much easier. “Being able to go home at the end of the day is such a relief, I think it would make a huge difference,” said Jones, who now is married and has children of her own. Newell said Northern Montana Hospital has already seen the benefits of local treatment for other problems, including when NMH started offering dialysis for people with kidney ailments in a joint venture with Benefis Health Care in Great Falls about 13 years ago. Previously, people had to travel to Great Falls or farther for the treatment, she said. “We’ve seen the costs of going,” she said. David Leeds, who co-chairs the capital campaign for the Hi-Line cancer center with Lynn Hamilton, said the cancer center will be a benefit for the region. “As a cancer survivor, I understand the emotional hardship of separation from family and friends at a critical time in your life. I have also experienced the economic hardship involved with having to maintain a second residence away from home in order to get the necessary treatment,” Leeds said. “A cancer treatment center located in Havre is a blessing for local residents.” Jay Burrington, director of facility services for the project, said things are coming together. “It is a big project, to be sure,” Burrington said. “There are about 800 yards of concrete, 50 tons of Rebar, 45 tons of structural steel and one semiload of sheet rock. “The building is approximately 75 percent completed, and it is looking really good from the outside,” Burrington added. “ I can’t wait to see what the landscaping will add to the view.” Part of the construction was building a special vault to hold the linear accelerator, the base of which is scheduled to arrive in April. Newell said the vault has to be built to precise specifications to hold the accelerator, which will be used in delivering radiation to tumors during treatment of cancer. The specifications include being able to hold the immensely heavy device and to shield radiation. “The door into to the vault for the linear accelerator weighs 3,465 pounds,” she added. For more information or to invite Obresley to present information about the Hi-Line Sletten Cancer Center, contact her at 262-1354 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Men Who Cook For Women Who Wine, contact Kathy Haas at 397-3111 or Joyce Donoven at 395-4505. Tickets are available at the door for $25 a person or in advance for $20 a person or $35 a couple at Norman’s, Blackie’s Fresno Tavern, Ag Wise, McNair’s Furniture or Northern Montana Hospital.