KU Cancer Center receives $1M gift

The new Kansas University Hospital Cancer Center in Westwood has made quite an impression on the right person.

Philanthropist and civic leader Annette Bloch surprised Kansas University leaders last week when she spontaneously announced a $1 million gift at a reception before the new outpatient cancer center opens next Monday.

“We couldn’t have scripted it,” said KU Hospital spokesman Dennis McCulloch. “I probably couldn’t have pulled anything off as dramatic as that.”

On Monday, KU leaders announced Bloch’s gift, the largest ever received for cancer care at KU Hospital. It will fund some kind of patient care program, which will be determined during the coming months.

Bloch is the widow of Richard Bloch, co-founder of the H&R Block tax preparation company, and the couple established the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation in 1980.

The Cancer Center and Medical Pavilion is a 55,000-square-foot facility about a mile and half from the hospital’s main Kansas City, Kan., campus. The hospital has renovated the building – which once housed Sprint’s headquarters – and moved and purchased new equipment for $37 million.

Bloch was touring the facility Thursday before she made the gift announcement.

“When I went in, it didn’t feel like a medical facility,” Bloch said in statement. “It was warm and full of hope. Everything in the cancer center was designed for the patient’s benefit. I have never seen a cancer center like this, so I knew the time was right for this gift.”

“I think she just got an idea of how much benefit patients would get from the new facility and the nurses, the physicians and the programs that it represents,” said Kate Migneron, KU Hospital’s development director for cancer services.

Bob Page, KU Hospital’s president and chief executive officer, said the gift was meaningful because it came from “someone who has done so much for cancer patients throughout the country.”

“I think it’s more than just a pat on the back,” said McCulloch. “It is certainly a validation and an endorsement that our approach that we’ve developed over the last eight years in cancer care has been absolutely right.”