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Board Member Spotlight: Wylie Overly, MD

Board Member Spotlight: Wylie Overly, MD

With the opening of Excela Health’s Surgical Institute at Excela Latrobe Hospital, life has come full circle for Wylie Overly, MD, who built the framework for community-based cancer care in Westmoreland County more than 60 years ago.

Following medical school in the 1960s, the young physician completed an internal medicine residency at Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, followed by a fellowship in hematology through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at Case Western Reserve in Ohio. Having grown up in Mount Pleasant, he always hoped to return home and was gratified to be welcomed into the internal medicine practice of Dr. John Parker and Dr. John Mazero in Latrobe and onto the medical staff at Latrobe Area Hospital, where Dr. Mazero would become medical director, and later head of the Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation.

Based on his NIH experience, Dr. Overly saw a future in cancer care, and sought board certification in oncology and hematology in the early ‘70s when both were emerging specialties. In those early years there were few chemotherapy agents available which meant the prognosis was often grim for those diagnosed with cancer. Still, Dr. Overly remained optimistic as he read the professional literature and learned of the latest developments in treatment as close as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Cancer care would continue to advance at Latrobe Hospital, with the development of a comprehensive program that earned and maintains to this day accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

By 1990, Dr. Mazero’s group practice, now known as Diagnostic Associates, had grown to 10 physicians, among them Dr. Matthew Sulecki, who was hired to work alongside Dr. Overly on cancer care. Treatments also were burgeoning and by 1996, Drs. Overly, Sulecki and their counterparts at Westmoreland Regional Hospital, Dr. Terry Evans and Dr. Frank Viverette became part of the UPMC Cancer Institute’s community-based oncologists.

Given the long-standing association among famed Latrobe golfer Arnold Palmer, UPMC, and Latrobe Hospital, it was a short putt to formalize a joint venture that continues to flourish with Excela Health. Over the past 20 years, the relationship has deepened, with outpatient medical and radiation oncology expanding in technology and technique. Clinical trials and immunotherapy are now part of the mix as are more options for radiotherapy. And now, through the creation of the Surgical Institute at Latrobe Hospital, surgical remedies for cancer have a focal point in Westmoreland County, too.

In retirement, Dr. Overly remains attentive to the latest advances in oncology, and through his membership on the LAHCF board, he is a strong advocate for funding projects that allow physicians to find and treat cancer sooner.

“I am a big believer in creating, equipping and maintaining facilities that allow us to provide the best care we possibly can at the local level,” affirms Dr. Overly. “We are blessed to have expert clinicians and dedicated staff delivering exceptional care, and we have the support of our community through generous donors who share our vision.”