A proposed multimillion dollar expansion of the OSUCCC–James will bring together patient care, research and education in one facilitySimply put, it is about offering more hope.
by Bob Hecker
The proposed multimillion dollar expansion of Ohio State’s cancer program is about far more than bricks and mortar, project leaders say. Rather, it’s about reshaping cancer care by fostering innovation, speeding the transition of research findings to the patient’s bedside and providing more options to patients and families touched by this disease.
“This is not an ordinary expansion program,” says David Schuller, MD, vice president of Medical Center Outreach and Expansion, and medical director of the OSU Medical Center Campaign. “We are creating a special environment with infrastructure designed to enhance our brand of personalized health care by offering expanded treatment opportunities based on research and education.”
As part of The Ohio State University Medical Center’s $1 billion Master Facilities Plan—a multidisciplinary reconstruction endeavor targeted for completion in 2014—the cancer expansion will bring researchers, clinicians, students and educators together in state-of-the-art facilities. A new and larger cancer hospital will have at least 288 beds, up from the current 160-bed capacity, and it will connect with a new oncology ambulatory clinic capable of handling twice the current outpatient volume. Research labs and educational space will be strategically interspersed within these facilities.
“We are carefully designing the new facilities to help us accelerate our research while maintaining a warm and friendly patient-care setting that will comfort and encourage patients and families,” Schuller says.
“This is an exciting time for cancer cure and prevention,” adds Michael Caligiuri, MD, director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of Ohio State’s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. “Several cancers once cured in only a fraction of patients who endured horrific treatments are now treated with just a pill, and patients are living for decades without side effects.”
This is possible, Caligiuri says, because researchers are uncovering the molecular causes of cancer and designing targeted agents that can treat it with minimal effects on the rest of the body—the kind of medical maneuvering that will be bolstered by the Ohio State cancer program expansion.
|The new, larger cancer hospital will have at least 288 beds, up from the current 160, and it will connect with a new oncology ambulatory clinic capable of handling twice the current outpatient volume.|
Building The Best
“This is the largest building project in the history of our University,” Caligiuri says. “It will provide superb facilities and attract the brightest researchers and physicians to Ohio State, enabling us to offer the best treatments for our patients. The more researchers we have working on cancer, the more likely cures will come in our lifetime.”
Equally exciting, Schuller and Caligiuri say, is that, after several years of planning and discussion, tangible steps have been taken to set the entire Medical Center Master Facilities Plan in motion. Last June and July, Ohio State’s Board of Trustees released funds totaling approximately $100 million to finance all remaining elements of preconstruction design.
“These funds will finance all design elements that need to be completed before we can solicit bids for construction,” Schuller says.
Construction will occur on land situated both east and west of Cannon Drive—a linear array of buildings to be linked by a connector above the roadway. The east end of the expansion will connect to the existing Medical Center campus. Means Hall, an MRI facility and the South Cannon parking garage will be demolished to make way for East-of-Cannon (EOC) construction.
|Construction will occur on land situated both east and west of Cannon Drive. The buildings will be connected by a connector above the roadway. The east end of the expansion will also connect to the existing Medical Center campus.|
West-of-Cannon (WOC) construction will occur in what is now a parking lot (see diagram above).
In July, the Board released funds to cover the design of the cancer hospital and a critical-care patient tower and other new EOC facilities, along with a WOC outpatient oncology facility that will adjoin the cancer hospital via a connector over Cannon Drive. These funds will also finance construction of research labs, cancer administration offices, education and conference space, imaging facilities and Hope’s Boutique—a specialty shop catering to women with cancer—all to be located in the outpatient oncology building.
Estimated construction costs are $742 million for EOC work, $182 million for WOC work and $76 million for several related Master Facilities Plan projects being completed in 2008, including a new MRI facility, Digestive Health offices and two additional floors on Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital. Altogether, these account for the
|Planners have set a goal of raising $75 million in philanthropic support to help with the $1 Billion cost of the construction, which is scheduled to be completed by 2014.|
$1 billion price tag on construction to be completed by 2014.
A subsequent stage of construction, to be completed by 2016 at an additional projected cost of $300 to $400 million, calls for building out another 36 beds within the new cancer hospital. This stage also includes additional facilities for cancer research, radiation oncology, chemotherapy, a clinical trials office, cancer faculty offices and an 800-vehicle parking lot west of Cannon Drive.
Financing the Project
Financial support for the expansion will likely come from operations of the cancer program and the Medical Center, and from philanthropy, Schuller says.
Government funding is another possibility. “We are having discussions with state, county, city and federal officials about the dramatic impact that this project could have on the community’s quality of life and economy,” Schuller says. “We are hopeful that this will result in additional support.”
For example, according to a 2008 economic assessment by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC) and cancer program added more than $1.4 billion to the regional economy in 2006 through its patient-care services, plus another $400 million from research awards.
In addition, between 2001 and 2007, the Medical Center and cancer program added 3,700 new jobs, which led to 4,400 new jobs elsewhere in the economy. Furthermore, patient admissions grew from 45,796 in 2003 to 54,314 in 2006, an 18-percent increase, and family and friends from outside the area added an estimated $54 million to the area’s economy. These community benefits will grow with the expansion.
To cover most of the cost, he says, the University will borrow money to be paid back over 20 years from operation revenues. However, planners also have set a goal of raising $75 million in philanthropic support to help with the $1 billion cost of the construction to be completed by 2014. Under Board of Trustees policy, 75 percent of that goal, or about $58 million, must be raised in cash or written pledges of no more than five years by the time construction is slated to begin in mid-2010.
“The bottom line is that we must reach 75 percent of our fund-raising goal before the Board will authorize construction,” Schuller says. “We anticipate achieving that sometime in 2010."
Once bids are let and contracts awarded, he adds, construction
will take an estimated 43 months. Schuller and Caligiuri admit that planners are counting heavily on community generosity for the expansion, but they believe the return will exceed the investment by improving the efficacy and efficiency of cancer treatment—something beneficial to all.
“What already distinguishes us as an academic medical center is our ability to translate research findings from the laboratory to the bedside, and then carry findings made at the bedside back into research to continually refine therapy,” says Caligiuri, a University Distinguished Scholar who holds the John L. Marakas Nationwide Insurance Enterprise Foundation Chair in Cancer Research.
“Our new facilities will enable us to hasten this process.”
|Easy access to multiple resources will benefit both patients and physicians in the new facility. Physicians from a variety of specialties will be in close proximity to both their patients and their research labs.|
Perhaps the most important factor, he says, will be access.
“Surgeons will be located on the same part of campus as medical and radiation oncologists enabling them to work together with ease, and they will be able to come down from the operating room to see patients who need a quick surgical consult,” Caligiuri explains. “In addition, there will be a series of ‘translational labs’ close to the inpatient and outpatient settings for physician-
scientists whose research connects on a daily basis with the clinic.”
Schuller, a surgical oncologist who holds the John W. Wolfe Chair in Cancer Research, also cites advantages of easier access.
“For patients on protocols who require occasional body-fluid analysis, we will have laboratories for conducting that analysis that are close to the patient, rather than having to transport the specimen half a mile away,”
“If a particular malignancy is diagnosed in a patient whom we know would not respond well to standard treatment,” he continues, “we could offer participation in a clinical trial, and professionals who are expert in the workings of that trial would be quickly available to talk to the patient and family in a supportive manner so they wouldn’t face the anxiety and delay of going elsewhere to learn about it.”
Students, too, will benefit from the new facilities.
“A medical center like ours has an army of people to help with patient care, including medical students, residents and postdoctoral fellows,” Schuller explains. “If in the course of their work something clicks in their minds regarding patient care, they’ll have the means to pursue it at once in a nearby research and educational support space.
“The juxtaposition of all these resources will benefit patients by increasing their treatment options—options that may not be available in hospitals without this kind of infrastructure,” he says.
“Bringing our inpatient, outpatient and research facilities closer together will make science-based multimodality care much easier to administer,” Caligiuri says. “And this is critical for moving Ohio State toward its goals of ranking in the top 10 in research funding from the National Cancer Institute and in the top 20 among academic medical centers.”
But the success of this expansion, say Schuller and Caligiuri, hinges largely on community support.
“We hope to generate tremendous excitement for this project and how it will attract more top researchers and physicians to do the innovative science that we need to cure and prevent cancer,” Caligiuri says. “Without these expanded facilities, our progress in curing cancer will no doubt take a slower pace.”