Patients who hear the devastating news they have cancer often hear the term “fight” as a way to describe their treatment. A new, more welcoming battlefield for that fight is emerging as construction is progressing on pace for the opening of a new $14 million cancer center on the OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center campus in Alton.
The Cancer Center will allow patients in the River Bend to receive outstanding comprehensive cancer care that is close to home. The bright and calming environment is designed to reduce stress and inspire hope. The building is scheduled to be completed by next fall. The structure will have its own entrance off of Central Avenue and includes a walkway from the hospital for easy access to therapy, treatment, education and support services.
As cancer incidence rates continue to grow nationally and locally, the Cancer Center will meet current and future needs of the Riverbend. OSF Saint Anthony’s President Ajay Pathak says with services all housed at the facility, the region’s top oncology team will be able to collaborate to make sure the entire clinical staff treats patients holistically, meeting all of their needs and do so in an “uplifting, supportive, patient-centric setting.”
“From our radiologists, pathology, gastroenterology, urology, pulmonology – just really bringing that team together, focused around the patient,” said Pathak.
Medical Oncologist and Chief of Staff for OSF Saint Anthony’s Dr. Manpreet Sandhu, believes a lot of oncology work is communication.
“We focus on how we communicate with the patient — how we’re able to give hope to a person who may not have hope,” she said.
Her approach emphasizes making a connection with the patient and instilling confidence about the care they are receiving.
“If the patient needs radiation and medical oncology, we are going to try to keep them in the same area and there can be direct communication between doctors in front of the patient.”
Sandhu notes the wall of windows in the chemotherapy infusion area was a deliberate design choice. “We want a lot of light in our treatment area because patients can spend all day there,” she said.
The Healing Garden will be located just outside so patients can admire the blooms on the other side of the glass or in warmer weather, those who are mobile can sit outside while they’re being infused. Infusion are will have a refreshment station and bays with private and open options for those who want to socialize and take part in activities.
The beautiful, functional setting offers new office spaces, lab, exam rooms, pharmacy, and classroom spaces for education and support services such as nutrition counseling. A patient consultation/education room will allow more in-depth discussions and meetings with patients, their families, and their physician.
Other amenities focused on patients include a small chapel with stone and stained glass for prayer and reflection plus a boutique that will carry wigs, scarves, and other supplies for patients. The building will also host the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good, Feel Better Program” and other support group meetings.
New technology coming to the building will allow for more precise treatment for a variety of cancers. A major construction milestone occurred in November when 30 truckloads of cement was poured to accommodate the most current state-of-the-art linear accelerator for radiotherapy treatment. The equipment will allow for image-guided radiation therapy, stereotactic body radiotherapy and stereotactic radio surgery which can deliver precisely-targeted radiation to preserve healthy tissue.
“As the practice of radiation oncology moves to larger, more precise doses of radiation over fewer appointments, our new technology will allow us to follow best practices and expand the scope of our services,” according to Dr. James Piephoff, radiation oncologist at OSF Saint Anthony’s.
The OSF HealthCare Foundation is currently conducting a Capital Campaign to raise $2.5 million towards the project. To join the effort, call the OSF HealthCare Foundation at (618) 463-5168.
New OSF Saint Anthony’s Cancer Center by the numbers
- $14 million is the total project cost
- 15,500 is the square footage of the one-story free-standing Cancer Center
- 2,000 is the square footage of the walkway connecting the free-standing center to the hospital
- 267 cubic yards is the quantity of concrete poured for the vault to hold a new linear accelerator
- 60 is the percentage raised toward the fundraising goal