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Sarasota Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2021 7 months ago

SMH greenlights next phases of cancer institute

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Following the completion of an oncology tower, the hospital will begin plans for two new facilities.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

Although crews are still putting the finishing touches on an inpatient oncology facility at Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s main campus, plans are underway for two new outpatient facilities. 

This fall, the hospital is slated to open its eight-story tower dedicated to cancer patients, but hospital board members unanimously approved a motion to allow staff to begin work on preliminary schematics and site plans for two outpatient facilities to complete the institute's continuum of care. 

The two new projects mark the third and fourth phases of the hospital’s Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute, a comprehensive cancer care program the hospital began developing in 2018. The Brian and Sheila Jellison Family Foundation gifted the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation $25 million for the institute, the largest gift to date. 

The $220 million institute allows cancer patients access to the most up-to-date treatments, technologies, support services and clinical trials.

When the institute first began, its director, Kelly Batista, said that upon completion it will help patients receive first-rate care from beginning to end without having to travel or move. 

“It’s important that when you find a place such as this one where you love to live and you have friends and your family around that you don’t need to leave that to have great cancer care,” Batista said. 

Preliminary plans for the third phase show a six-story cancer pavilion will be added to the main Sarasota campus and that a two-story cancer center will be added to the Venice campus to better reach patients in south county. 

The cancer pavilion on the Sarasota campus will comprise approximately 15,000 square feet across the street from the new oncology tower. It will offer an array of outpatient services including outpatient surgery suites, radiation and infusion services, diagnostic services, and integrative and supportive care. 

Additionally, it will house administrative and clinic space for physicians, counselors and navigators to provide coordinated care to both patients and their families. 

The cancer center at the Venice campus will offer radiation oncology, advanced diagnostic imaging, infusion services, supportive care and medical office space in a 50,000-square-foot building. 

President and CEO David Verinder said there is great need for the two additions because cancer diagnoses are rising both locally and nationally.

About one in three adults will develop a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime: 41% of men and 39% of women. Oncology inpatient and outpatient services are expected to grow 11% by 2023.

“Cancer care is far more than facilities, treatments and technology,” Verinder said. “It takes tremendous coordination and collaboration across multiple subspecialties and disciplines to accurately diagnose and develop targeted treatments. That’s where a comprehensive cancer center like Sarasota Memorial’s Jellison Cancer Institute can really make a difference.”

In 2020, the hospital opened the first phase of its cancer institute, a $27 million outpatient radiation oncology center at its University Parkway campus, which introduced a new clinical specialty for the hospital. 

The facility offers external beam radiation service, a process that precisely target tumors, sparing healthy cells from radiation exposure. This allows local doctors to safely treat smaller tumors in the head, neck, lungs, breast, abdomen, spine and prostate. 

To date, the center has treated 185 cancer patients, averaging 145 daily treatments per week. 

The second phase, the oncology tower at the Sarasota campus, will open this fall. The tower will ensure the inpatient needs of a growing population, such as visiting with specialists and receiving care from nurses, can be met under one roof.

In the past, patients had access to a variety of specialists, such as radiation oncologists, surgeons and rehab therapists, but they were often in different locations. In the new tower, they will all be housed together. 

The third and fourth phases will ensure patients who are undergoing outpatient services will have the same array of doctors at their fingertips.

Schematic design on the two new facilities will take six to eight months at a not-to-exceed cost of $4 million, $3 million for the Sarasota addition and $1 million for the Venice facility. 

Pending further approval and funding by the hospital board, construction could begin late next year. Construct is expected to be complete in October 2023 for the Venice campus and in June 2025 for the Sarasota campus. 

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