After more than a year of planning and anticipating, Sarah Bush Lincoln broke ground Wednesday for its new Regional Cancer Center.
The freestanding Regional Cancer Center will offer comfort, privacy and space to its patients. Construction should take about 18 months.
The new facility, which will be built on the front lawn of the Sarah Bush Lincoln campus, will span 21,000 square feet and will feature 17 individual chemotherapy areas where people can receive their care in a comfortable space that allows companionship during the treatment.
BSA Life Structures of St. Louis designed the center with The Upchurch Group of Mattoon, and SM Wilson, also of St. Louis is the general contractor. The cost of the project is $15.8 million, which includes a new $4 million linear accelerator used to deliver powerful radiation directly and precisely to tumor; and an underground pneumatic tube transport system to quickly send specimens to the hospital laboratory and critical supplies to the cancer center at a cost of $1.1 million. The exterior will feature a drive-up canopied entrance and a healing garden which can be enjoyed from inside in the infusion bays or by siting among the landscaped areas.
While the size and amenities of the facility are vital to delivering the best possible experience, SBL President and CEO Tim Ols was quick to praise the cancer center staff members. “People are eager to share the experiences they’ve had in our cancer center. They always talk about how kind the staff members were, how they listened to their concerns and gave them hope for the future. Today is an exciting day for us, and I’m thankful to be a small part of the center’s future,” he said.
Regional Cancer Center Medical Director Abdur Shakir, MD, echoed his sentiments and explained the need for more than doubling the space needed to treat cancer. “In the last two years, the number of people seeking care in the Regional Cancer Center has increased by 26 percent. Sadly, that’s expected to increase by about 40 percent over the next 10 years.”
In East Central Illinois in 2013, four cancer cases were diagnosed daily. Currently there are 11,000 people living with cancer in Coles and the surrounding counties. At Sarah Bush Lincoln, there are approximately 270 new cancer cases treated annually with more than 5,500 visits.
The proposed facility will provide medical oncology (chemotherapy), radiation therapy, exam rooms and physician work areas, a clinical laboratory for preparing and transferring specimens from the Cancer Center to the hospital’s laboratory, a pharmacy for preparing chemotherapy infusions, shared patient support, educational programs and support groups, cancer resource center and administrative offices.
The additional space will also allow the Regional Cancer Center to be involved in drug trials with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), which widens the opportunity for a cure for people with hard-to-treat cancers and allows them more choices, Dr. Shakir said.
“Because of our close affiliation with UIC, we are able to consult with some of the brightest minds in cancer care when we’re faced with particularly difficult cancers. This gives our patients the best available treatments and the greatest opportunity to beat their cancers,” he added.
Nurse navigators will also help guide the care and recovery of people fighting cancer, while providing education and support to patients and their families after the cancer diagnosis and throughout treatments.
“Our goal is to create a healing environment that is both comfortable and comforting to our patients and their families by providing private space for them. The gardens on the south side of the building are natural spaces that are intended to be experienced and enjoyed. Our team is very excited about starting the next chapter in cancer care at Sarah Bush Lincoln,” Dr. Shakir said.
The facility will serve a 10-county area including, Coles, Clark, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Moultrie, Shelby, Crawford, Effingham and Jasper counties.
For more information, please contact Erica Stollard, Director of Planning, at 258-2106.