Cancer Center taking shape in Carson City |

Cancer Center taking shape in Carson City

by Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer

Carson-Tahoe Hospital’s plans for a comprehensive and accredited Cancer Center are starting to take shape.

Expected to cost between $10 million and $12 million, the building will house a range of services, from radiation and chemotherapy treatment to support groups — all under one roof.

“It’s all about acknowledging the needs of the patient,” said Pam Graber, spokeswoman for the hospital’s Foundation. ” When these folks are undergoing treatment, they’re so sick and tired, that if we can save them one step, we’re doing them a huge favor. We’re locating as many services at the center as possible and coordinating treatment plans, to make it easy for them.”

Final plans for construction are being ironed out and a starting date is expected soon for the center, which will be located on the campus of the new Regional Medical Center in northwest Carson City, Graber said.

Ranging in size from 30,000 to 40,000 square feet, the building will be funded primarily through grants and private donations. The fund-raising campaign will start in the coming weeks.

“We’ve begun to line up grants and we’re very excited about this campaign,” Graber said.

Cancer is the leading cause of death among those 35 to 65 and at some point, it touches almost everyone, said Ed Epperson, chief executive officer for Carson-Tahoe Hospital.

“Cancer is a big issue. After we determined that more oncology services are needed in this region, we started recruiting specialists,” he said.

Oncologist Dr. Jorge Perez, of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, recently signed up, for a total of two oncologists on staff locally. Dr. John Kelly has been practicing here for years and Epperson said there is a need in this area for at least one more oncologist, probably two.

“We’re setting a new standard in terms of recruiting,” he said.

Hospital officials are also seeking accreditation for the center. The process is expected to take two to three years and according to the National Cancer Institute Web site, there are no accredited cancer centers in the state.

Carson-Tahoe Hospital’s marketing executive Richard Linkul said the center will look more traditional than clinical, a building designed to create ambience to help patients cope during the stress of therapy.

“Some patients receive intravenous therapy one to three times per week. It takes hours and these infusions can go on for months,” Epperson said. “There’s a lot of apprehension, fear and anxiety.”

He said statistics show a pleasing environment is an integral part of the healing process. A single story building, plans call for the center to be skirted by gardens and a stream, sequestered from traffic noise.

He said real progress is being made concerning plans for the new regional medical center. Officials expect to start the first phase of the project in the spring or summer of 2003 and the new medical center should be completed in three years.

Carson-Tahoe officials said the building will be about 320,000 square feet and the project is expected to cost between $100 million and $120 million.

A nonprofit corporation since March of this year, Carson-Tahoe Hospital is managed by a board made up of people from the community. They set the hospital’s direction and strategy, approve the budget and find funding sources.

A second governing board, appointed by the membership of the corporation, oversees all aspects of the health-care business. Some board members have been added, but the board is primarily composed of the members of the Board of Trustees holding office when the hospital converted to a private, nonprofit.