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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Marilyn Ignasiak, field application specialist with Roche, trains Melissa Rhodes, left, and Mindy Bermes, both lab scientists at Parkview Cancer Institute, on the Cobas C 311, a chemistry analyzer machine.

  • Sharma Courtesy Dr. Neil Sharma president of the Parkview Cancer Institute.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 1:00 am

Cancer institute set to open

New Parkview facility to hold tours Sunday

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

If you go

What: Parkview Cancer Institute open house 

Who: Parkview Health

When: 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Entrance 12 on the Parkview Regional Medical Center campus, 11050 Parkview Circle Drive off Dupont Road

Admission: Free and open to the public

The money men might classify the four-story garden and the outdoor patio as wasted space.

And three fireplaces? Well, no one can argue they are critical for treating cancer patients.

Yet, somehow, they are.

Parkview Cancer Institute officials on Tuesday said their goal when designing the new, $101 million facility was to create a center that wraps its arms around patients. The vision was to make it feel more like a boutique hotel than a health clinic.

“We took a lot of time to get patient feedback,” Dr. Neil Sharma said about the institute, which opens to patients June 5. “I would say this building has exceeded our expectations.”

The public is invited to tour the five-story facility on the Parkview Regional Medical Center campus Sunday afternoon. Officials are planning for up to 5,000 visitors, spokesman Eric Clabaugh said.

It’s been three years since Parkview Health officials unveiled plans for the cancer center. Since then, 7,130 cubic yards of concrete have been delivered to the site just north of Dupont Road, along with 1,161 tons of structural steel and 980 tons of rebar.

At the height of construction activity, about 130 workers were on site each day.

While Weigand Construction crews did the heavy lifting, Parkview officials re-examined the way they treat patients. Doctors and administrators visited cancer centers across the country for inspiration and examples of best practices.

The end result, officials said, is a 181,000-square-foot cancer center with cutting-edge technology combined with patient support from a team that addresses patients’ emotional, dietary, financial, transportation and other needs.

And it’s all in a tranquil setting that features abundant sunlight, live plants and 250 colorful pieces of artwork.

By placing physicians’ offices, testing equipment, treatment areas and various counselors all in one building, Parkview will minimize the time that cancer patients spend shuttling between caregivers.

They carried over that theme to the treatment areas’ design. Think of a square doughnut. Exam rooms are aligned along the pastry’s surface. In the center, where the hole would be, is an area where doctors, nurses, social workers and others will work side by side.

The layout encourages communication and consultation between caregivers, Sharma said. He is president of the Parkview Cancer Institute and specializes in treating gastrointestinal cancers.

“We recognize that cancer care is extremely complex,” he said.

The design has been a selling point for Sharma, who has recruited specialists to bulk up the staff before the doors open. Parkview providers already see 50 new cancer patients each week, on average. And they’re preparing for more.

“We want to be a draw for the whole region,” Sharma said. “A destination site.”

Parkview’s investment also includes technology.

New equipment includes a CyberKnife, which delivers precise radiation treatments to hard-to-reach areas, and a 3.0T MRI machine, which creates the highest-quality images currently available.

The chemotherapy infusion center includes 48 bays in a mix of private, semi-private and group rooms.

The third-floor area could have easily comprised all private rooms, but officials wanted patients who have struck up friendships to be able to receive treatment together. That’s an example, they said, of designing with the patient experience in mind.

In another example, the second-floor cafeteria will deliver food directly to chemotherapy patients who might be hooked up to IVs for eight hours at a time.

The cafeteria menu includes smoothies, milkshakes, salads, cold sandwiches and hot meals. But no food is cooked in the cancer center itself out of consideration for patients struggling with nausea.

Those dishes are wheeled over from Parkview Regional Medical School, which is attached to the cancer center by a two-story walkway.

Patients and visitors can walk directly into the Parkview Cancer Institute by using entrance 12.

sslater@jg.net