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Archive for Monday, July 16, 2007

Cancer center nearly complete

Facility designed with patients’ comfort in mind

July 16, 2007

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At Kansas University Hospital's soon-to-open Cancer Center and Medical Pavilion, construction workers wear hard hats, steel beams are exposed in one section of the second level and stacks of boxes tower in the community room next to the cafeteria.

Jeff Wright, the hospital's executive director of cancer services, said work will move at a fast clip in the next three weeks to ensure the center is ready for its Aug. 6 opening.

When it does open, patients will find an outpatient cancer center designed with their input, plus the suggestions of doctors, nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists.

Wright said the intent of the cancer center is one of privacy, comfort and convenience. It features an outside "healing garden." Designers incorporated plenty of windows and a "muted spa" color scheme. And patients will appreciate hooks for robes that cover the dreaded hospital gowns.

"What I think is unique about the facility is that we had a lot of collaboration, a lot of partnerships : to make sure the layout, design and patient flow would work well and create the most appropriate, best possible environment for our patients," Wright said.

For more than a year and half, KU Hospital has been working to relocate its outpatient cancer center to its Westwood campus. The center will be at the corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Belinder Road, in a building that once housed the world headquarters of Sprint.

At 55,000 square feet, the new facility will be nearly twice the size of KU Hospital's current cancer center, which is a mile and half away at the hospital's main campus.

The remodel, move and purchase of new equipment will cost the hospital $37 million.

One of Wright's favorite sections of the new facility is on the third level, where patients will come for chemotherapy treatment.

In many traditional settings, patients receiving chemotherapy treatment - which can last from three to seven hours - are lined up in rows of comfy chairs. It is what those at the hospital refer to as "Barcalounger cities."

The communal nature of chemotherapy treatment will change at the new cancer center with 39 private but spacious treatment bays.

Each space has high walls and white-noise machines so sound won't travel, with curtains that can be pulled across the entryway for privacy. The bays also have wireless Internet connections and flat-screen televisions with DVD players.

A row of windows wraps around the treatment center, letting in sunlight and providing a view of the trees.

If patients want company, the can go down the hall and receive their treatment in a common area.

"Having natural light, patient privacy and then the ability to be able to move to another space to interact with patients, we felt was important. And that was generated from patient focus groups," Wright said.

The new center's first level will be dedicated to the spectrum of breast cancer, from prevention to treating cancer survivors. The center has the equipment needed for screening, exam rooms for treatment and echocardiogram tests to help those who have recovered from breast cancer.

The hope, Wright said, is that the new center could accomplish in a day - from exam to a biopsy - what can take 30 to 90 days in some hospitals.

The center also will feature an after-hours urgent care center that will open in the fall.

KU Hospital's new cancer center won't change how things are done at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, LMH spokeswoman Janice Early-Weas said.

The LMH cancer center, which opened in 2000, has private rooms for chemotherapy treatment. Early-Weas also said that within 48 hours, patients can be screened and have a biopsy, if necessary.

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