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Leadership Ledger: Leadership group delves into health care

There's a special gold bell inside Lancaster Radiation Therapy Center that cancer patients ring three times upon completing their series of treatments.
The pulling of the string is a celebration for all involved – the patients, their families and even the medical staff rendering the treatment. Hugs and kisses are doled out. Smiles fill the room. And even some tears are shed.
The plated text below the bell, presented in poem form, sums up the experience.
“This journey has been long and hard. But we faced the test,” the text reads. “Our loved ones have supported us. Our faith will never rest.
“The past is but a memory. So now without delay. I ring this bell three times and know the future begins today.”
That passage speaks profoundly of the doubt, fear, strength and triumph of those battling cancer.
Most of us have been affected by cancer in some way – either as sufferers or supporters of someone who's battled it. The massive number of balloons released at the annual Relay for Life tells the story.
A glance at that gold bell – along with a walk-through of Lancaster Radiation Therapy Center – was sobering and saddening, but also encouraging Jan. 16 as I thought about the medical options available here in Lancaster County. That was the day for Leadership Lancaster’s most recent session, which centered on health care.
'Definitely personal'
Radiation therapist Chris Deese gave an overview of the device used to render radiation treatments. It's called a linear accelerator. It works by damaging the DNA of the person's cancerous cells.
Patients receive treatments daily, typically ranging from five to 30 treatments.
Deese said each individual radiation sessions lasts less than an hour.
“They're in and out,” he said.
Lancaster Radiation Therapy Center, which has been open about two years now, served about 300 patients within the past year.
The staff say through the treatments, bonds are established with those who walk through their doors daily.
“It's definitely personal,” Deese said. “We get to know the families very well.”
Springs Memorial Hospital
Before our visit to the radiation center, the leadership group met at Springs Memorial Hospital.
Clay Catoe, director of Lancaster County Emergency Medical Services, gave a presentation about the status of the local EMS.
His staff receives more than 1,000 calls per month for service. And the average response time is eight minutes.
The county's EMS personnel includes more than 250 certified first responders. The staff also teaches CPR, first aid and first-responder classes.
Janice Dabney, CEO of Springs Memorial Hospital, then shared facts and figures about the hospital.
The facility, owned by Community Health Systems, has 231 beds and 110 physicians and provides more than 27 different medical specialties.
Since 1994, $80 million has been invested in the hospital, Dabney said.
This year, hospital leaders plan to add four more beds to the emergency department, receive stroke accreditation, open wound-care and psychiatric centers and establish a physical therapy center in Indian Land for adults 55 and older.
Our health-care day concluded with a visit to Dr. Kristin Black, founder and owner of New Day Family Practice in Lancaster.
Black takes a holistic approach to providing primary health care for families. The practice has now been open six years.
“We don't want people to feel like it's a traditional doctor's office,” Black said. “We're trying to give you a different perspective, a different take on things.”