Spectrum plans $8.9 million regional cancer center

New facility will offer state-of-the-art care, patient-focused design

REED CITY - When Spectrum Health system representatives and local partners break ground  on a new cancer treatment center tomorrow, Thursday, Aug. 2, the event will be the culmination of a lot of planning, study and careful consideration. The ground breaking will mark the beginning of a new era in health care for residents of Osceola County and those living in 11 surrounding counties. The new cancer center will be located adjacent to the Crossroads Radiation Therapy Center situated across from Reed City Hospital on Patterson Road - just off the U.S. 10 and U.S. 131 intersection. The price tag of construction from start to finish is estimated at $8.9 million. Some $2.4 million is expected to be raised through a capital campaign fundraising program over a three-year period. An additional $1.6 will be taken from hospital operations fund, and about $4.9 million will be borrowed from the Spectrum system. The groundbreaking was a long, but carefully designed time in coming. “We have been talking about this project at least two years,” reported Spectrum Reed City chief operating officer Sam Daugherty, who is also CEO of Mecosta County Medical Center. “While looking at the possibility of expanding the center, the increase in the number of infusion therapy patients had a lot to do with our discussions.” The infusion therapy center is currently located behind the hospitals main facility. The two treatment facilities will be ‘wedded’ into one comprehensive care complex. “We’ve grown in need and the potential for service,” said Daugherty. “Matching this new Reed City facility with the  Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer and Wellness Center located in Mecosta County Medical Center in Big Rapids was a natural fit. “Having a new cancer treatment center in our immediate area will create a location for people to deal with cancer issues from start to finish - and close to home.” The new center will enhance existing radiation therapy services to offer wellness, diagnostic services, infusion therapy, wellness, look-good feel-better programs, radiation therapy, chemotherapy ...the entire cancer care program and all while having a more complete partnership with the Lemmon-Holton Cancer Pavilion in Grand Rapids. “This is going to be a top-shelf facility, and we are proud of all that has gone into this effort - within our system, working with local government, and dealing with a wide and extensive planning team,” noted Daugherty. The construction project is expected to extend over the course of one year, and the expanded treatment center should be up and running in the summer of 2013. Not only will a new wing and expanded facility be constructed and connected to the radiation therapy center, but the existing equipment will undergo an extensive update and upgrade. The new center will  feature a digital Varian Truebeam linear accelerator, (the top of the line in cancer treatment today), a new CT simulator for treatment planning, and a dedicated infusion and chemotherapy department. Also part and parcel to the new center will be a cancer resource center and library, office space for radiation and hematology oncology physicians practices, and a specialized team of doctors and clinicians with access to clinical research trials. All this will allow for a complete integration with the Spectrum Health Lemmon-Holton Cancer Pavilion in Grand Rapids. “We’re going to have a complex that will house a laboratory and pharmacy independent of the hospital across the road,” noted Irene Balowski, Spectrum Reed City’s director of cancer services. “It is going to be a spectacular facility. “Every single person in our department and system - from physicians to patients - has had input into the design of the new building. Every detail, even the smallest things, was thought out over and over again, and always from the patient’s point of view. “Everything, from the location of seating to the height of shelving, was considered through the patient’s eye. “The color palette, the way rooms are laid out, the position of seating during therapy, the placement of tables and equipment, hooks on the walls, chart containers, absolutely everything has been designed to be the most patient-friendly possible,” Balowski said. “We hope to relieve a lot of the stress that accompanies cancer treatment and help people concentrate on getting well rather than on all sort of other distractions.” Balowski noted the new complex was not designed to be only a treatment center. “We want to also have a focus on wellness and prevention,” she said. “We don’t want to simply treat cancer. We also want to keep our community healthy.” Everyone involved in the project is excited to see the program started. “We are so happy to see this project ready to take off,” noted Reed City Hospital board member David Langworthy. “This new facility will offer people from our community, and from further away as well, a full service cancer treatment center like nothing that has been seen in this area before. “This will be the place to go for comprehensive cancer care and treatment.” Planners expect the new out-patient center will attract clients from not only the immediate area, but also further afield. The Radiation Therapy center has already brought in patients from as far away as Kalkaska County to the north, and Kent County to the south. Projected growth in a need for cancer care and treatment locally (approximately 2 percent annually) suggests the investment is well made. The combination of infusion therapy with radiation and other therapies makes the development of a more comprehensive center necessary. “At issue isn’t simply a potential growth in the number of cancer patients,’ said Langworthy. “We also want to make this center a place where people choose to be treated. This new center will involve, in many ways, one place to go for one cancer treatment program - from diagnosis to wellness.” Before the new center is even completed, parts of the program will be put in place. The new Truebeam linear accelerator will be placed in a “temporary” home to replace the present equipment before the winter sets in and well before construction on the new facility begins. Staff already are receiving training on the new equipment in anticipation of its use in the very near future. “This is really a dream come true,” said Daugherty. “To imagine this type of facility was easy. To actually see it come about has taken a lot of dedication and effort by a lot of people. “At the end of the day, the new cancer treatment center comes about as the result of people concerned for their neighbors and community.”