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Massey patient Ali Antourakis and VCU Health leaders give thanks for the new Adult Outpatient Pavilion

Dec 21, 2022

AOP seen from the ground

For cancer survivor and new mom Ali Antourakis, the feeling is one of gratitude. She is grateful to be celebrating another year around the sun. She is grateful for her husband and family, and their new baby. And she is grateful for VCU Health and VCU Massey Cancer Center’s new Adult Outpatient Pavilion (AOP), where she is a patient, and where, she says, she found a place that not only treated her pre-cervical cancer, but treated her.

The state-of-the-art facility opened to patients in December 2021. The space, Antourakis says, is light- and hope-filled, and that makes the AOP a health center unlike any other.

At the one-year anniversary celebration of the AOP’s opening, Antourakis and VCU Health leaders including Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health , and Douglas Arthur, M.D., Massey radiation oncologist, were featured in a video about the building and its impact. Robert A. Winn, M.D., Massey Cancer Center director and Lipman Chair in Oncology, and Michael Elliott, Chief Operating Officer of VCU Health System, also spoke at the event to thank donors and provide tours of the AOP.

[Supporting] the AOP is probably one of the most important investments that any donor can make in any Virginia institution,” said Rao, “because we've created a patient-centric model that will be replicated.Michael Rao, Ph.D., VCU president

A patient-centric model second to none

“What we’ve come up with is a way to treat patients and to take care of patients that will become a model for the rest of the nation,” said Rao. “This is a really important facility that recognizes the patient and the patient experience and all of the ways in which patients need to experience treatment that works for them and makes them better.”

When Ali Antourokas was diagnosed with pre-cervical cancer in 2019, she knew immediately where she would be treated. “I knew a hundred percent, I want to go to Massey, I want to have the best treatment possible.

“Coming out of the elevators, there’s huge windows,” Antourakis said. “It’s so light and bright and it doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a medical setting.”

Intersection of science, health care delivery and community

“The AOP is this intersection of science, of health care delivery, and community, all coming together,” said Winn. “That’s why I’m really excited about this particular building.”

Patients have been at the forefront of designing the building from its onset, explained Arthur, who has been part of the planning team for the new building since its conception.

“From day one, the patient and the patient experience have been the center of all of our decision-making and our discussions,” Arthur said. ”Our sub-specialists are together in one area to collaborate and take care of patients together.”

Robert Winn Robert A. Winn, M.D., Massey Cancer Center director and Lipman Chair in Oncology, acknowledges donors to the AOP at an event in December 2022 marking one year since its opening.

Winn noted the AOP’s broader importance is something that Richmond and VCU can be proud of.

“There are resources including wellness centers that are not just bringing medicine to the folks entering the building, but bringing health,” said Winn.

Resources including an on-site pharmacy, patient lounges and a wig salon are designed to treat the whole patient with their convenience in mind. Even the artwork in the hallways and the elevator bays are designed with the patient in mind.

“The art is deliberately put there to not only represent folks within the community but also to have a calming and a thoughtful effect,” added Winn.

The result? An environment where patients, like Antourakis, can feel confident in the care they are receiving, and that their care team is truly listening to them in ways that support life goals, as well as their health.

woman and child

“I was very concerned about my ability to have children,” Antourakis shared. “After my diagnosis, they quickly got me in to have surgery to remove the pre-cancerous cells about a month after my first appointment, which was incredible.

“Because I had the surgery and because I get checked every six months, I was able to be put on a plan where I could try to start having a baby. They listened to my life goals and made sure that I was on a plan that protected me, protected my wellness, but also gave me opportunities that I always wanted for myself.

“Since I’ve been a patient for three years, I’ve been at the old building and now the new building. So, I’m really excited to be able to come to a building that is so light and bright and easy to navigate,” Antourakis said. “The staff, I just can’t say enough good things about them. I feel like they are like my family at this point.”

Thank you

The state-of-the-art new AOP was made possible in part through philanthropic support, including $1.25 million matching gift challenge grants through The Cabell Foundation and The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation and donors including the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Foundation, the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, the Noëlle C. Loving “But Tomorrow” Foundation, The TowneBank Foundation, the Virginia Moose Association, West Charitable Trust, Apex Systems, and others who named spaces in the new Massey Cancer Center in the AOP.

To learn more about ways you can support the AOP and VCU Massey Cancer Center, please contact Patti Jackson at jacksonp2@vcu.edu or visit www.masseycancercenter.org/aop.

Written by: Katherine Layton

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