By Steve Blanchard - February 09, 2022
Just two weeks after Moffitt Cancer Center at Wesley Chapel opened its doors to patients, Vanessa Thomas was unsure of what to expect as she began treatment for her triple negative breast cancer at the AdventHealth campus.
“I had gone to my doctor for something totally unrelated to breast cancer,” Thomas said. “I had just moved here from Connecticut and then the pandemic hit. I wasn’t up to date on my mammogram, and it wasn’t one of the things at the forefront of my mind.”
But when doctors saw the result of her breast scan, a consultation changed her life.
“Suddenly it was time to make decisions as to who I was going to go see and where I would get treated,” she said. “It just made sense to go to Moffitt, which was right here.”
Thomas lives 10 minutes from Moffitt at Wesley Chapel, which is the cancer center’s northern-most satellite that sits on the AdventHealth campus, where her primary doctor works. Thomas’ case highlights the importance of bringing care out into the community.
“Over this past year Moffitt has been able to get even closer to our patients,” said Dr. Tim Kubal, medical director at Moffitt at Wesley Chapel. “Patients can get the care they need right in their own community and save time and energy on the commute.”
Celebrating Our 1st Anniversary
Moffitt at Wesley Chapel opened on Feb. 15, 2021, and offers 20 exam rooms, 22 infusion chairs, three blood draw stations, a linear accelerator and a CT simulator in the nearly 28,000-square-foot building. Patients can access blood draw, infusion, medical oncology, radiation and surgical oncology consultations right in their own community.
Thomas has been to Moffitt Cancer Center on the University of South Florida campus but said she prefers the Wesley Chapel location not only for its proximity to home, but also because of its design.
“It’s so beautiful, welcoming and not dreary,” Thomas said. “You don’t feel like you’re walking into a hospital or a place of death. It’s welcoming and so friendly.”
Thomas said she felt right at home, from the friendly registration to her first interaction with Dr. Vania Phuoc, one of the lead hematology/oncology physicians at Moffitt at Wesley Chapel who focuses on breast cancer.
"Our goal from the beginning with satellite locations like Moffitt at Wesley Chapel clinic was to offer a new hybrid care setting, bridging the space between typical community private practice and academic centers."- Dr. Vania Phuoc, Moffitt oncologist
“Our goal from the beginning with satellite locations like Moffitt at Wesley Chapel clinic was to offer a new hybrid care setting, bridging the space between typical community private practice and academic centers,” Phuoc said. “Lead physicians at this new clinic follow a multispecialty model where they can focus on a select set of disease types.”
Offering Innovative Treatments
Since opening, Moffitt at Wesley Chapel has seen approximately 20,200 patients, hosted 1,170 individual radiation clinic visits and performed 17 SpaceOAR hydrogel procedures, according to Jazmin Calzada, director of clinical operations at Moffitt at Wesley Chapel.
By the numbers
- Date opened: Feb. 15, 2021
- Patients Seen: Approximately 20,200
- Clinic Visits: Approximately 7,000
- Radiation Clinic Visits: 1,170
- SpaceOAR Hydrogel Procedures: 17
- Exam Rooms: 20
- Infusion Chairs: 22
- Blood Draw Stations: 3
- Linear Accelerators: 1
- Square footage: 28,000 square feet
- Medical Providers: 23
- Nurses: 21
- Certified Medical Assistants: 9
- Patient Access Rep: 6
- Pharmacy: 6
- Radiation: 4
- Admin: 6
- Environmental Services: 7
SpaceOAR hydrogel is offered to prostate cancer patients prior to radiation therapy. The placement of the hydrogel enables care teams to protect the patient’s healthy tissue surrounding the prostate and reduce the dose of radiation delivered to the rectum while treating the prostate.
“As one team, we deliver the best education to our patients before, during and after the course of their treatments,” Calzada said.
Considering this was Thomas’ first encounter with cancer — at least personally — she said she couldn’t be more grateful to have a resource so close to her home in Wesley Chapel. In all she had 16 rounds of chemotherapy over 4½ months, a double mastectomy and 25 rounds of radiation — all performed at Moffitt at Wesley Chapel.
“It all just happened so fast,” Thomas said. “We just reacted and trusted the care team. My husband kept saying this was ‘Operation: Save Vanessa.’ And that’s exactly what happened.”
Today Thomas is healthy and is under observation by her care teams at AdventHealth and Moffitt at Wesley Chapel and will remain so the next two to three years.
“I am just so appreciative of the entire group at Moffitt and AdventHealth,” Thomas said. “It was all such a whirlwind. I am so thankful for my family and for the care I received.”