Looking Back

Founded in 1997, we were originally named the Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center. However, after Lee and Jane Seidman made a generous donation to University Hospitals, our name was changed in 2011 to Lake Health/University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center.

This is the cover of the newspaper insert that announced our grand opening. You can read most of the original text of the insert below.

Lake County Celebrates Premier Cancer Care Close to Home

When the diagnosis is cancer, people want to have access to the most promising and most advanced treatment options. Thanks to a new partnership between Lake Hospital System and University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center, Lake County residents now need to look no further than their own back yard.

The November 8, 1997 community celebration of the new Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center, located at Lake Hospital System’s Mentor Medical Campus, 9485 Mentor Avenue, represents much more than the opening of a new medical facility. This innovative approach to the delivery of care brings together one of the leading community hospitals in Northeast Ohio with the region’s premier provider of cancer care. Residents of Lake County and the surrounding area will have ready access to advanced cancer technology and therapies that are on par with the best treatment plans offered in the country.

Patient care will be a collaborative effort among oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, and other health professionals. Clinical trials will be offered to many patients. The cancer center is a facility where patients can meet with their physicians, receive radiation therapy, and obtain chemotherapy – all under one roof.

When the cancer center at the Mentor Medical Campus was designed, efforts were concentrated on bringing the latest technology to Lake County. Yet, patient comfort also was kept close in mind. In addition to state-of-the-art equipment, the cancer center features spacious, comfortable treatment rooms and plenty of natural lighting.

Care will be as convenient and comfortable as possible for patients, with attention to their medical, psychological, nutritional, spiritual and emotional needs. Tertiary cancer care will be provided at University Hospitals of Cleveland, when required, and the center staff will work in a cooperative fashion with other organizations that serve Lake County residents.

“The new center will offer the same high quality care that earned the University Ireland Cancer Center special recognition from the National Cancer Institute,” according to Dr. Nathan Levitan, medical director of clinical cancer programs for the Ireland Cancer Center and University Hospitals Health System.

What makes the center truly innovative is that physicians from all branches of oncology work side by side, said Dr. Armin Green, a Lake County Hospital System oncologist.

“The new collaboration offers the best of both worlds: advanced care in a community setting,” said Dr. Green.

Dr. Levitan, in charge of setting up community-based cancer centers throughout Northeast Ohio, said the Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center will provide services in the same manner that has made the University Hospitals-based Ireland Cancer Center so successful, individualizing each patient’s treatment plan with expertise from a team of cancer specialists.

Community-based physicians will partner with University-based oncology specialists, becoming affiliates of the cancer center. They will have access to continuing cancer education and information on the latest cancer treatments. “They can offer their patients the highest quality standards of the Ireland Cancer Center, but treat them in their own communities, in most cases,” Dr. Levitan said.

The patient’s community-based physician can regularly confer with nationally recognized Ireland Cancer Center subspecialists in areas such as colon cancer, lymphoma, melanoma, breast cancer, urological cancer and gynecologic cancer, among others. Options in treatment including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, can be considered by the physician in conference with these specialists. Patients who would benefit from clinical trials will be able to receive most treatments at the Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center.

The move to bring cancer services closer to where people live is an extension of the idea of community-based primary care physicians. “People want their primary care physician to be nearby, to be readily available when they need help,” said Dr. Levitan. “We believe that cancer patients deserve the same conveniences while receiving the highest quality of care.”

Center Features Advances in Chemotherapy, Patient Amenities

Cancer patients in the Lake County area receiving chemotherapy will find all of the comfort, warmth, and conveniences of home at the new state-of-the-art Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center in Mentor.

Dr. Armin Green, a Lake Hospital System oncologist, said the collaboration with University Hospitals of Cleveland allows Lake Hospital System to deliver premier cancer care, while allowing patients to remain close to home.

Chemotherapy involves the use of medications that destroy cancer cells in different parts of the body. Like normal, healthy cells, cancer cells go through a continuous process of dividing. The drugs used in chemotherapy are powerful and are designed to interrupt this cycle. Many different types of drugs are used in chemotherapy. Each type of chemotherapeutic drug (drugs can be used alone or in combination) kills cells at a different stage of the cell’s life cycle. And each drug does its job in a different way.

Dr. Green stated new chemotherapy treatments are making it possible for cancer patients to lead relatively normal lives while receiving therapy.

“We are dealing with new drugs that are more effective and have fewer side effects,” Dr. Green explained. “There are some newer agents available that didn’t exist two or three years ago, and others are new within the last six months to a year.”

Today, patients with certain types of advanced cancer, such as breast, colon, lung and esophageal, among others, may receive chemotherapy prior to surgical intervention, explained Dr. Nathan Levitan, medical director of clinical cancer programs at University Hospitals Health System. The purpose of this “neo-adjuvant approach,” explained Dr. Levitan, is to hopefully “shrink” the size of a tumor, allowing more patients to undergo surgery – one of the most important lines of attack in the treatment of specific cancers. There are also several new treatments that can be given after surgery.

“There has been a tremendous explosion of knowledge about how cancer cells are formed, and how the body fights back,” Dr. Levitan explained. “This knowledge has led to the development of new chemotherapeutic agents that attack cancer at the cellular level, wiping out deadly cancer cells, while, hopefully, sparing normal cells. Research has made some big steps in the right direction. We’re beginning to make some significant gains in the treatment of hard-to-treat cancers.”

Patients can receive chemotherapy in the comfort of the day treatment center, which features a bright, inviting setting with plenty of windows. Such added amenities as a microwave, refrigerator, and compact disc players also are available to further enhance a home-like atmosphere.

State-of-the-Art Radiation Therapy Targets Tumors

Cancer patients who require radiation treatment face a potentially time-intensive and exhausting process. The convenience of comprehensive radiation oncology services at the Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center will alleviate some of the burden while providing today’s most advanced care.

Patients will receive prompt state-of-the-art care by a skilled team of nurses, radiation technologists, a physicist, nutritionists and social workers. Radiation treatments are effective in changing the structure of cancer cells so that tumor cells are reduced or destroyed. The radiation treatment itself is administered using a high-precision linear accelerator. Most radiation regimens involve brief daily treatments that continue for three to six weeks. That is why convenience is particularly important to these patients.

Before treatments begin, the patient will consult with a physician, and treatment will be designed for the particular cancer and its location. So that radiation can be delivered accurately and safely, a state-of-the-art computerized simulator is used to duplicate the stream of radiation and to chart a precise computerized blueprint for treatment.

The Mentor location will provide ease of access in a variety of ways. The centrally located Lake County facility was designed in a single-story configuration so patients don’t need to climb stairs. Free parking is readily available next to the building. And for people without transportation, a social worker will be available to help arrange rides to and from each visit.

“Roughly 50 to 60 percent of cancer patients will receive radiation as part of their treatment,” according to Dr. Louis Novak, a director of radiation oncology at Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center. “At the new Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center, patients will receive the highest quality care.”

Ireland Cancer Center Provides Leading Edge Cancer Treatment

University Hospitals of Cleveland’s Ireland Cancer Center was established in 1985 to bring to residents of northeast Ohio access to treatments. The focus of its efforts in cancer care is in the area of “developmental therapeutics” – taking basic science findings from the laboratory to the bedside to provide the most advanced, high-quality patient care.

Having met the standards of excellence established by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for the basic sciences and for clinical care, University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center, a collaboration between the hospital and Case Western Reserve University, is designated by the NCI as both a Clinical Cancer Center and Treatment Referral Center. It is the only NCI-designated center in Northern Ohio. As such, its patients are the first to benefit from the newest cancer treatments.

One of the greatest strengths of the cancer program is its ability to bring together all the appropriate experts from the basic sciences and clinical care to form a multidisciplinary approach to all inpatient and outpatient oncology activities. More than 160 experts from medicine, surgery, pediatrics and radiology join with specialized oncology nurses and dietitians, social workers, and music and art therapists – ensuring that the many needs of patients and their families are met.

Taking a team approach to cancer care begins during the patient’s first visit. Each multidisciplinary team focuses on a major body system affected by cancer or on a specific procedure. Teams are established for the care of brain cancer, breast cancer, childhood cancers, colon cancer, gynecological cancers, head and neck cancer, leukemia and lymphoma, lung cancer, skin cancers, and other rare forms of the disease.

In basic research, the physicians and scientists of University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center join forces with Case Western Reserve University to form a comprehensive biomedical research program. Research is conducted by University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center physicians and Case Western Reserve University scientists in molecular biology, pharmacology and biochemistry to identify the incidences, causes, progressions and effects of various types of cancer. University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center research is supported by more than $30 million annually, awarded to individual researchers by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and other agencies.

As an NCI-designated Clinical Cancer Center, the Ireland Cancer Center provides physicians, newly-diagnosed patients, and the public with a Cancer Information Service. The Cancer Information Service serves as an educational resource, providing information on ongoing clinical trials, current cancer treatments and cancer prevention, screening and educational programs sponsored by the Ireland Cancer Center.

Highlights of Ireland Cancer Center leadership include the area of bone marrow transplantation (BMT). The BMT program was established in 1976 and ranks as one of the nation’s first programs of its type. In the last two decades, transplants have been performed on patients with a wide range of cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, and breast cancer. An innovative “care path” was designed to improve the BMT process by shortening the lengthy inpatient hospital stays without changing outcomes.

Several clinical trials are under way in which drugs that attack cancer at the cellular level are being tested. The University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center is the first cancer center in the nation to test a new drug called O6-benzylguanine. The drug, which is used in combination with standard chemotherapy, appears to “shut down” a specific enzyme that repairs cancer cells damaged by chemotherapy. Without this “repair,” chemotherapy can be more effective.

The University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center is among three cancer centers in the United States chosen by the NCI to investigate the activity of a new agent called 9-aminocaptothecin in the treatment of advanced breast cancers, and is among a select number of NCI centers testing the activity of topotecan in the treatment of several different types of hard-to-treat cancers.

Physicians and researchers at University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University received national attention for their discovery of a genetic defect that leads to the development of colon cancer, the second leading cancer-related cause of death, with about 150,000 new cases reported yearly. These findings will lead to the development of a simple blood test for early diagnosis and screening for the presence of colon and other cancers.

Lake Hospital Foundation Supportive of Cancer Center’s Offerings

Businesses, corporations and foundations have supported making comprehensive cancer services in Lake County a reality through their gifts to the Lake Hospital Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Lake Hospital System.

The creation of a cancer center has been a focus of the foundation for several years, according to Michael McGrael, executive director of Lake Hospital Foundation.

The Special Events Board of Lake Hospital Foundation has contributed nearly $180,000 to the development of the cancer center during the past two years as a result of its popular black-tie Glitz fund-raising event. Next year’s Glitz, scheduled for March 21, is expected to raise an additional $90,000 in support of the cancer center’s offerings.

The Lake Hospital Foundation also received a gift from Bank One in tribute to Albert R. Pike, for whom the cancer center lobby is named. Mr. Pike is chairman emeritus of Bank One Cleveland, and a funding trustee of Lake Hospital Foundation. In addition, more than 50 gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations have been received in support of cancer services.

Lake Hospital Foundation’s work goes beyond the bricks and mortar. Gifts to the Foundation also provide outreach services.

For example, cancer patients and their families who reside in the Lake County area and are in need of pharmaceuticals, goods or services not covered by third-party reimbursement, may now turn to the Darlene Zeelo Memorial Foundation for assistance.

Lake Hospital Foundation serves as the administrative agent on behalf of the Darlene Zeelo Memorial Foundation, which was established in 1996 as a way to improve the quality of life for cancer patients in Lake County. Ms. Zeelo was a Lake County resident and co-owner of Royal Plastics, Inc. until her death from cancer in 1996.

The Zeelo fund is a source of last resort for patients who have demonstrated financial need and have exhausted other available resources, McGrael said.

Lake Hospital System social workers, nurses, physicians, as well as community social services agencies can identify a patient’s needs and request funds through Lake Hospital Foundation. Specific areas of support include transportation, prostheses, prescription pharmaceuticals, hospital supplies and durable medical equipment, emergency funds and respite care.

Lake Hospital Foundation secures private charitable assets to focus on enhancing the health of the community, McGrael said.

“We are able to utilize Lake Hospital System’s leadership in health care to reach those in need,” McGrael said. “Because of the many partnerships Lake Hospital System has developed, our gifts impact a greater number of people throughout our community.”

Cancer Center Blends Progressive Care with Innovative Setting

The Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center mirrors the philosophy that shaped Lake Hospital’s Mentor Medical Campus. The campus, which offers outpatient diagnostic and surgical services, opened in February 1996 and quickly earned a reputation for high-quality, patient-focused care in an attractive setting.

“We created a homey environment, a place where patients won’t feel isolated or lost in the system,” explained Mary Ogrinc, Lake Hospital System’s senior vice president, Operations. Ogrinc, who assisted in the design of the cancer center, did her homework. She and her team identified that patients prefer to receive chemotherapy in active surroundings. “They need to remember that life is all around them, and they’re a vital part of it,” said Ogrinc.

With that in mind, Ogrinc and her team designed the building so the day treatment area, where patients receive chemotherapy, faces Route 20. Patients receive their therapies in comfortable recliners that face floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking busy Mentor Avenue. Recognizing that people have different needs, Ogrinc and her team also included several private rooms for patients who prefer a more tranquil setting.

Ogrinc and her team addressed the small details, too. The landscaping features something of interest in every season. Patients may choose between individual TVs, or CD players with earphones. And knowing that chemotherapy can irritate the lining of the mouth and throat, Ogrinc and her team installed a refrigerator/freezer in which patients can store ice pops and other refreshing treats.

“Depending on their treatments, patients could spend up to 10 hours here, so we want them to be comfortable,” said Ogrinc. “We’ll encourage patients to say, ‘I prefer my therapy this way.’”

Down the hall from the day treatment area is the radiation component of the cancer center. Patients would never guess that the welcoming decor hides specially designed concrete walls that are 8 feet thick. The soothing design offers a reassuring reminder that the facility delivers advanced care with a soft touch.

Throughout the campus, Ogrinc and her team focused on patient comfort and accessibility. One area of the building contains a lift for patients who arrive by ambulance. This area was specially designed so patients won’t feel as if they’re coming through the back door.

“The cancer center is a strong addition to the services currently offered at the Mentor Medical Campus,” said Ogrinc. Those services include the latest ACR-accredited mammography equipment, breast and gynecological biopsies, and an educational resource center.

The Art of Healing: Sculpture, Painting, Weaving have Therapeutic Benefits

When you step into Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center, you discover how warm colors and natural lighting can create a nurturing atmosphere.

To soften the look of Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center, the center’s design team turned to Jo Howell, owner of the Corporate Art Gallery in Mentor. Two years ago, Howell chose the artwork that currently decorates the diagnostic and surgical pavilions at Lake Hospital System’s adjoining Mentor Medical Campus. The design team wanted the cancer center to achieve the same inviting look and feel through its artwork.

“We wanted to create a oneness with nature,” explained Howell. Toward that end, she chose three artists to design pieces depicting natural sciences. “I want patients to see the artwork and know that they are a part of everything here and that the cancer center is focused on their needs,” said Howell. “I want them to feel comforted.”

All of the pieces were created especially for the Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center by local artists. Howell chose three artists who work in different mediums, representing both tactile and visual elements.

Artist Fred Schmidt created a rounded, white sculpture that depicts life as a circle. The sculpture graces the center of the lobby and invites touching. “Some of the pieces are connected together ever so slightly, the way we depend on each other,” explained Schmidt.

“I don’t want people to analyze the sculpture,” said Schmidt. “I’d like it to represent nurturing and healing to patients. Beyond that, its spirit should be one of happiness, peace, and hope.”

Artist Jodi Kanter created a series of woven wood panels that soften the building’s brick and glass surfaces. “Artwork provides a distraction and a spiritual uplift to a medical setting,” said Kanter. For the center’s two front windows, she designed matching panels of flowers and sun rays. The design represents warmth, growth, and life, according to Kanter. Hanging from the lobby ceiling are five panels depicting mountains, clouds, a river, and more sun rays. When you walk into the cancer center, you view the entire scene. Yet, because the panels are staggered, you see distinct settings from different vantage points in the lobby.

Two original paintings by artist Don Boncela portray tranquil scenes from local parks. One is a woodland stream with dramatic lighting, the other an enchanting lily pond. “The environmental scenes are so peaceful and relaxing, that when you view them, I want you to feel as though you can step into the scenes,” said Boncela. In fact, many visitors will recognize the settings and perhaps, reflect on fond memories of days spent enjoying nature.

Resource Center puts Cancer Information at Your Fingertips

If you or a family member is diagnosed with cancer, knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment options can help you make informed decisions.

Lake Hospital System can help with this educational process. Tucked away in Lake Hospital System’s Mentor Medical Campus, adjacent to the Lake/University Ireland Cancer Center at 9485 Mentor Avenue, is one of Lake County’s most up-to-date health information resources – the Lincoln Electric Foundation Health Education Resource Center.

This “library without books” offers access to a database of more than 1,900 medical topics and more than 150 periodicals on health, fitness, nutrition, and medicine.

The database also includes the complete text of more than 100 medical journals, including HeartCare, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and AIDS Alert, along with the text of more than 500 medical pamphlets from renowned associations, government agencies, and foundations. The software is updated monthly.

The Resource Center also houses more than 75 videos that you can view on the spot, as well as take-home brochures on a variety of LHS programs and medical procedures.

Patients can be assured they will find the latest information technology at the Resource Center.


Fundraising efforts throughout the year help LH/UH Seidman Cancer Center continue to carry out our mission to provide world-class cancer care and oncology services to residents within driving distance of Mentor and Lake County.