Kettering Health Network is nearing completion of a new $53 million cancer center, featuring one of the largest chemotherapy suites in the region, a specialty pharmacy and a cafe catering to the nutritional needs and tastes of patients.
Kettering officials said the center will accept its first patient on Dec. 13, a little more than a year and a half since the nonprofit hospital system broke ground on the 120,000-square-foot, five-story building, across the street from its flagship Kettering Medical Center hospital.
“There’s still a lot of construction going on,” said Elizabeth Garrison, executive director for Kettering’s oncology service line. “It’s a bee hive of activity over there, but our partners at Danis (Building Construction) have been phenomenal. They realize this isn’t just any construction project. This is a cancer center that’s going to impact people’s lives, and everybody over there is acutely aware of that and really dedicated to getting this done on time.”
The Dayton Daily News was given an exclusive tour Friday of the cancer center, which will be staffed by more than 30 specialists and sub-specialists. The center was developed with guidance from a patient advisory council, comprised of cancer patients and survivors, who were consulted on everything from building and interior design to furniture and fixtures.
“Everything about this building has had input from and been impacted by our patient advisory counsel,” said Garrison, who noted the second and third floors will remain shelled-out after the center opens to allow for future expansion. “They not only helped us with the finishes, design and layout, but also with the programs and services offered there.”
Garrison said the cafe was a major priority for the advisory counsel, many of whom said their biggest complaint about cancer treatment was that the treatments could cause different kinds of problems that may make it hard to eat or drink.
“The cafe is really, really special to us because it offers foods that are specifically designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of cancer patients,” she said. “You gotta have fuel to fight.”
The center will also feature a spa-like boutique that sells wigs and other post-surgical apparel as well as prosthetic and other products for cancer patients. It will also offer a wide range of services, including medical massage, complimentary holistic medicines, radiation treatment, imaging, clinical trials and a specialty pharmacy for hard-to-find cancer drugs.
“People will be able to walk out of the pharmacy with the drugs they need for their cancer treatment instead of trying to find a pharmacy,” Garrison said. “Not all pharmacies carry some of these oral chemotherapy drugs that we’re trying to offer to patients so they don’t have to come in for those long four- and six-hour infusions.”
Those patients who do come in for treatment will find a sanctuary of tranquility as they receive their treatments in heated massage chairs in 46 private and semi-private rooms, most of which have panoramic views through floor-to-ceiling windows encompassing the entire building, Garrison said.
The private rooms are designed for patients dealing with the often severe side-effects of chemotherapy, such as vomiting and uncontrollable diarrhea, who can opt to receive their treatment alone in a single room for greater comfort, convenience, and privacy.
“If they’re having a good day, some people may want to sit in their chair, slide back the partition and talk to the person sitting in the bay next to them,” Garrison said. “For others, they just want it to be over.”