Adventist HealthCare officials, joined by Shady Grove Hospital personnel and local elected officials, broke ground Wednesday on what will become Montgomery County's first free-standing, comprehensive cancer center.
Called the Aquilino Cancer Center, the 50,000-square-foot, three-story building will offer personalized, expert care to cancer patients with up-to-date technology and support services to treat various forms of cancer. It's slated to open on the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital campus in 2013.
The driving force behind the project, said Shady Grove Hospital president Dennis Hansen, was better care for people battling cancer in the hospital's community. Jane Peck, Hansen's colleague, said she believes it will do that and more.
"For the patient, our plan is to create a center where they can walk in and have all of the services they need that completely takes care of them as they’re fighting their disease," said Peck, the Executive Director of Cancer Care Services for Adventist HealthCare. "Not just their doctor's appointments and the clinical side of things, but also the supportive care that a cancer patient needs, whether that be through the psycho-social support, nutritional support, fitness, all of those elements that are also important to a person when they’re battling the disease."
Many of those elements often go without being cared for because the patient either doesn't know where to get the treatment or doesn't have the energy to go to another location, Peck said.
Cathy Salem, one of Shady Grove's radiation oncologists, said the center will prove to be a more accessible facility for patients both during and after their cancer treatments.
"I have absolutely no doubt the Aquilino Cancer Center will improve the outcome and quality of life for our patients," Salem said.
The $27 million center was made possible through a generous donation from county resident Michael Aquilino, whose wife, Tammie, died from cancer in 2004.
"When you're going through cancer, time is so valuable. You don't want to spend that time commuting while maintaining a routine with your family, your work and the hospital," Aquilino said in a statement. "I truly believe upper Montgomery County deserves and needs a convenient, high-caliber cancer center like the one that is being built, with all the critical services in one place and top medical researchers in close proximity."
As part of the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center and the Great Seneca Science Corridor, physicians at the Aquilino Cancer Center will be able to closely collaborate with local and national research organizations. Patients will also have an opportunity to participate in clinical trials and research projects.
The facility will also have its own chapel, retail shop and patient living room.