Dr. Pehr Hartvigson has a special appreciation for having advanced medical care in rural communities. He grew up Soldotna, Alaska, a town about the size of Warrenton 150 miles by car southwest from the closest urban area in Anchorage.
Hartvigson takes over next year as the director of oncology services at the Knight Cancer Collaborative, a partnership between Columbia Memorial Hospital and Oregon Health & Science University that expanded chemotherapy and brought radiation therapy to the North Coast.
Soldotna had a small hospital like Columbia Memorial and few primary physicians, surgeons and an anesthesiologist, he said.
“For a long time, if you wanted any type of specialized care, including cancer care, you had to drive three hours to Anchorage, 3 1/2 hours to Anchorage,” he said. “By Alaskan terms, that’s reasonable. But for a lot of people, that’s still challenging. And if you’re going through the side effects of chemo or radiation, it’s sometimes not really feasible.”
Medical care in Soldotna has expanded since Hartvigson left to study biology at Brigham Young University in Utah. He went to medical school at the University of Washington, completing his residency and a yearlong internship in internal medicine in Boise, Idaho. He spent a month in orientation at OHSU’s Department of Radiation Medicine in Portland before moving to Warrenton with his wife and son to start his first full-time position.
Hartvigson will take over from Dr. Sahar Rosenbaum, who joined the hospital with the opening of the cancer center in 2017 after more than 20 years of serving cancer patients. She will continue on with the hospital once a week during the transition.
Rosenbaum lauded the impact of the cancer center, now the busiest of OHSU’s satellite clinics, for allowing people to get more advanced treatment closer to the comfort of their family and friends, she said.
“Access to different types of health care technology is a real issue for a lot of folks in rural communities,” Hartvigson said. “So the OHSU-CMH collaboration really appealed to me as an opportunity to deliver on that sort of lifetime goal to bring the same level of care, the same level of technology, to patients that live in a rural setting.”