Wichita An out-patient cancer treatment center will be opened at Kansas University Medical Center under a plan approved Thursday by the state Board of Regents.
"This is something that we've worked on for a long time," said Glen Potter, KUMC vice chancellor. "The real bottom line is that this will significantly benefit patient care."
Regents approved a contract with Salick Health Care Inc., of Hollywood, Calif., that requires Salick to open the center on KUMC's campus in Kansas City, Kan., by March 1.
Salick agreed to invest $15 million over 10 years, including a new building for the center by 1995. The company will provide operational services for the center.
Regents will ask the state to issue $8 million in bonds to cover construction of the building, but bond debt will be paid by Salick.
According to the contract, KUMC will provide physicians to staff the center and a patient base.
"We need this for our institutional programs, our research programs," said Dr. D. Kay Clawson, executive vice chancellor for the medical center.
CLAWSON said the hospital business in the Kansas City area is so competitive that KUMC must seek new ways of serving patients and generating revenue.
"Our competition is working all the time to one-up us. We have to move forward," he said.
The center couldn't be opened without Salick's investment because the state doesn't have money to make large capital investments, he said.
"You need new capital to do this," he said. "The state is capital poor."
Stan Koplik, regents' executive director, said the board's staff is comfortable with Salick's ability to operate the center. However, he warned, no one can adequately predict the future of the health-care industry.
KU general counsel Victoria Thomas, who worked on the contract with Salick, said the center might help KUMC obtain a prestigious National Cancer Institute designation.
"THIS WILL build on the tradition and the reputation of the Medical Center in the greater Kansas City area," Thomas said.
The care provided at the center will be patient oriented, Potter said. For example, people will be able to receive treatment 24 hours an day, he said.
The center also should bring additional research funding to the Medical Center which would be used to develop new cancer treatments, Thomas said.
Ted Ayers, regents' general counsel, said the joint operation with Salick had produced controversy. He said the state's attorney general and governor were contacted by people worried about the deal.
DR. RICHARD Evans, chair of the KUMC radiation oncology department, said he was concerned that benefits paid employees would be inadequate under Salick, that indigent patients would be limited and that Salick might not buy equipment as promised.
"There's always going to be some controversy and questions asked whenever you change the way you operate a facility," Thomas said.
"There is a certain degree of resistance to change," Potter said. "Most of it is the context of the unknown."