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Many cancer patients in the North Platte region have to travel to either Omaha or Denver for surgery, then make several trips for follow-up treatment. Ivan Mitchell, COO at Great Plains Health, says new services means patients can do their follow-up visits here.

A continued collaborative effort between GPH and the University of Nebraska Medical Center will bring two surgeons to North Platte for clinics once a month. Dr. Rudy Lackner, thoracic surgical oncologist, and Dr. Chandrakanth Are, hepato-pancreato-biliary surgeon, are slated to begin making the trip west.

“The Cancer Center has been one of our marquee service lines for a while,” Mitchell said. “We’ve had great hematologists and oncologists that treat your general hematology and oncology conditions.”

He said North Platte is not a large enough community for the hospital to bring in the surgical oncology professions.

“For us to employ full time a lot of the surgical-specific oncology positions is just something that’s not going to happen,” Mitchell said. “Because we treat a lot of cancer patients in the western part of the state, one of our strategic objectives is to ensure access to quality care.”

Lackner will be handling any cancer issues having to do with the lungs, esophageal cancer and more, Mitchell said.

“If someone does have a lung cancer and they need a lobectomy or something like that,” Mitchell said, “currently we’re not going to start doing the procedure here. But you’d go to Omaha and have the surgery there, then you’d be able to have your follow-up care here.”

He said that would save patients a few eight-hour round-trips to Omaha following surgery, which can be taxing medically as well as expensive.

Are will deal mainly with cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, Mitchell said.

“Dr. Lackner begins this Friday, and next Tuesday, Dr. Are will be here,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said there is good synergy between GPH and UNMC that has evolved through the communication the providers at Callahan have with Lackner and Are.

For more information on the new service, call the GPH Callahan Cancer Center at 308-568-7386.

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