We're Bringing Better Health Home

Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center (SVRCC) is delighted to announce an affiliation with Dartmouth Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC). I am Dr. Orion M. Howard, the Medical Director of SVRCC. Dr. Charlene Ives and I, along with approximately 60 other SVMC physicians have recently become employees of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and remain fully affiliated with SVMC and the SVRCC.


To me, this is the best of both worlds. We can remain completed affiliated with the SVRCC and theSouthwestern Vermont Medical Center community while at the same time tapping into the amazing resources that Dartmouth-Hitchcock and NCCC provide.


Norris Cotton Cancer Center is an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, one of only 41 cancer centers in the United States to carry this designation. This means they are held to a high level of thoroughness and skill in their care of cancer patients. Our new affiliation allows us access into extraordinary amounts of knowledge in an even more robust way than we have done in the past.


The SVRCC has always delivered fantastic care. We have two board-certified medical oncologists and a radiation oncologist who is well respected throughout the state. We have the resources to deliver cutting-edge care and clinical trials in a wonderful and cozy environment near home, which patients clearly say they prefer. Now, we will expand our reach to Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and tap into their clinical trials, their tumor boards and cancer conferences, and their outstanding surgical subspecialists. It also allows us access to their 50 plus medical oncologists for opinions about difficult or complex cases.


I have been going to tumor boards at Dartmouth-Hitchcock for the last three years. Now the cancer specialists from those tumor boards are my direct colleagues, and my access to them has just been made efficient and seamless. If I need to speak to an oncologist who treats only lung cancer about a new case, they are only a phone call or video-conference or quick drive away, and that is going add great value for our patients.


SVRCC has always offered cutting edge clinical trials, and that will continue and expand into NCCC’s program. Subspecialists from both the medical oncology and surgical oncology departments of Dartmouth-Hitchcock will now visit Bennington, and we hope to establish clinics at the SVRCC in the future. In the meantime, we will continue to access their knowledge by visiting Dartmouth-Hitchcock, sending appropriate patients in that direction if they need specialized treatments, and continuing to delivery world-class care right here in Bennington. There is nothing like getting this level of care right in your own backyard.


Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, in conjunction with the SVRCC already offers access to:


1)      Medical and radiation oncology services

2)      ACoS and NAPBC accreditations

3)      Outstanding surgeons, including one dedicated to breast surgery

4)      Dedicated oncology nursing

5)      Multi-disciplinary tumor board or cancer conference

6)      Cutting edge clinical trials

7)      Cancer genetics program

8)      PET/CT scans and MRI

9)      Digital mammography

10)  Dedicated breast health navigator

11)  On-site cancer center pharmacist and pharmacy technician to ensure accuracy


It is our expectation that these services will continue to expand and grow in affiliation with our new Dartmouth-Hitchcock colleagues. This is a very exciting time for our cancer center.



Dr. Orion Howard is an oncologist with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians and provides care for patients in Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center. To learn more about how SVMC and Dartmouth-Hitchcock are working together for a healthier community, visit www.svhealthcare.org. “Health Matters” is a weekly column meant to educate readers about their personal health, public matters and public policy as it affects health care.