Two years ago, one of Astoria’s leading citizens and former mayor, Willis Van Dusen, called Jordan Schnitzer to share exciting news: Phil and Penny Knight had agreed to help fund an extension of the Knight Cancer Center of OHSU at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria. Willis asked Jordan if his mother, Arlene, and their prolific foundation would help support the cause. Jordan and Arlene Schnitzer immediately responded, not only due of their affection for Astoria, but also because of their personal experience with cancer in their family.
Almost seven years ago, Jordan’s late father, Harold Schnitzer, was diagnosed with cancer. The Schnitzer family considered going to some of the leading cancer centers around the country, such as Sloan Kettering in New York, MD Anderson in Houston and Fred Hutchinson in Seattle, but because of the amazing generosity of Phil and Penny Knight in the creation of the Knight Cancer Center at OHSU, the Schnitzer family had great confidence the care Harold would receive in Portland was equal to or better than any treatment program in the country.
“Cancer is a devastating experience for anyone it touches and their families. Not everyone can travel to find the best doctors and it is such a privilege to have the Columbia Memorial Hospital and OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative in Astoria. Having a state-of-the-art facility in our back yard offers patients and their loved ones tremendous comfort,” Jordan D. Schnitzer said while addressing those at the ribbon cutting ceremony, “we in the Portland metro area and the state of Oregon are lucky to have the Knight Cancer Center and because of the continued generosity of Phil and Penny Knight there is now a CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative in Astoria.”
After seven years of preparation, the Columbia Memorial Hospital and OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative officially opened on October 2, 2017. The CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative in Astoria, Oregon offers a large array of services including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, imaging, pharmacy, and infusions in one building for individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer.
The Schnitzers donated $25,000 towards the establishment and development of the cancer center. In the month of October 2017, every $5 donated to the new CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative at the Astoria Column’s gift shop was matched by the Friends of the Astoria Column Board of Directors, a call to action Schnitzer, who is president of the Friends of the Astoria Column Board, sparked.
“We are so fortunate to share this community with Phil and Penny Knight. They truly understand the importance of giving back and the community impact it has. We are lucky enough to be in this community based on what other people have done,” Schnitzer said.
Jennifer Lycette, M.D., a medical oncologist from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, will be the center’s medical director. Anne Hulstrom, N.P., P.P. will be the Collaborative’s oncology nurse.
“We are lucky in this state, lucky for someone who gives $1, lucky for everyone who gives at all. In the end, it takes a lot of dollars for a cancer center, $600,000,000 to be exact. Thank you to the Knights for offering our family and every family some comfort. We all want to support their effort. Every dollar is important,” Jordan D. Schnitzer said.
Columbia Memorial Hospital, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, Dr. Sonny Park and the City of Astoria worked together in a joint effort to develop and establish the Collaborative. Erik Thorsen, Chief Executive Officer of CMH, and Arline LaMear, mayor of Astoria, worked to bring the town together to provide oncology care to the community. A $300,000 urban renewal grant to build the cancer center was approved by the Astoria City Council. Columbia Memorial Hospital’s Foundation supplied the furnishings and CMH’s Auxiliary volunteers provided the 10 infusion chairs. Clatsop Community College Art Department and local potters donated art for the center. OHSU also worked to bring an oncologist to Astoria and to coordinate the entire process and development of the center.
Willis Van Dusen, who helped make this project come to fruition, said, “I had the privilege of serving as Mayor of the City of Astoria for 24 years and on the City Council for 30 years. During that time, no individual did more for the City of Astoria than Jordan Schnitzer. His help with the Garden of Surging Waves, the Astoria Riverfront Trolley and, of course, the Astoria Column is appreciated and will never be forgotten.
In the past 30 days, we opened the CMH/OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative in Astoria. This is the most important accomplishment and largest financial investment in the City of Astoria in my lifetime. The cooperation between the school district, Columbia Memorial Hospital, Oregon Health and Science University, Park Medical and the State of Oregon is unprecedented.
As Chairman of Fundraising for the Cancer Collaborative, I turned to my friend, Jordan. He again, without hesitation, rose up to help. Without his input, his ideas, his imagination and his pocketbook, the CMH/OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative would not have become a reality.
Jordan’s friendships and business connections were extremely helpful. His insight into tackling a project of this magnitude for a community the size of Astoria was historic. And the best part for me, is that when I work with my friend, Jordan, his sense of humor keeps all of us on track, and makes the difficult times easier for all of us.
I have said it before, I’ll say it now and I know I will say it in the future -Astoria is a better place because of Jordan Schnitzer.”
The Columbia Memorial Hospital / Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Collaborative already has plans to expand with the addition of an 18,000-square-foot comprehensive cancer treatment center and specialty clinic. Read more about radiation therapy on the North Coast.