St. Bernards hosted a number of events Oct. 28 and 30 marking the opening of the new St. Bernards Cancer Center at 405 East Jackson Ave. The enlarged facility brings together all St. Bernards cancer services under one roof.
Activities got underway Oct. 28 with a special media tour of the new facility, which is the first phase of a multi-year master plan project that will change the face of downtown Jonesboro.
A formal program was held outside at the front of the Cancer Center Friday afternoon, followed by an official ribbon cutting and VIP tours of the 34,000-square-foot center.
A community open house and tours were held Oct. 30.
The Ben E. Owens Cancer Center opened in March of 1991 as the first cancer treatment facility in the region. It provided radiation treatment for cancer patients who previously had to travel to Little Rock, Memphis or beyond for care. At that time, one radiation oncologist and two medical oncologists were on the St. Bernards medical staff.
Today the cancer care staff includes six physicians – radiation oncologists Drs. John Lynch, John Allgood and Christian Okoye – and hematology/medical oncologists – Drs. Marc Montè, Mazen Khalil and Aamer Farooq. In addition, two GYN oncology specialists – Drs. Todd Tillmanns and Adam ElNaggar, who are associated with The West Clinic in Memphis – see patients at the Cancer Center
St. Bernards radiation oncologists and medical oncologists have cared for nearly 25,000 patients in the last 25 years.
The completion of the Cancer Center project means that St. Bernards cancer patients now will be able to access all cancer care services in a single spacious location.
Patients can be dropped off at a covered entrance at the front door and enter the ground level that houses a large, bright atrium lobby and waiting area, reception and registration, the radiation oncology clinic, PET and CT scanning, a conference room, treatment planning and six patient exam rooms. It also includes physician offices, general staff offices and offices for a dedicated cancer dietitian, cancer navigator and an APRN.
From the ground floor, patients have easy access to elevators to the first level where the hematology/oncology clinic is located. There, more than 30 patients can receive infusion therapy treatments at any one time. A large, open IV therapy area houses 27 infusion stations (each with its own TV) in a section that has a wide exterior view through high performance reflective thermal glass panels. There are two private infusion suites as well.
Other first floor areas include a special resource room, a dedicated chemotherapy pharmacy where all physician-ordered antineoplastic drugs will be prepared on site, a lab for blood testing, a research room, a financial counselor, a reimbursement counselor and a physician office suite. That floor also includes 16 patient exam rooms, a physician conference room and offices for a consult nurse, a cancer navigator, a physician assistant, a dietitian and APRNs as well as general staff offices.
From the first level, physicians have direct access to the medical center, making it easier for them to see inpatients. That also allows for easy access for inpatients who are receiving either radiation or infusion therapy treatments.
Ample parking is available on surface lots north of the building,and 60 spaces are designated for cancer patients in the St. Bernards Parking Garage which has direct access to the clinic entrances.
Construction took approximately 10 months and involved more than 150 workers. Nabholz Construction served as contractor for the $9.9 million project, and plans were developed by HKS Services, a Dallas firm that has designed healthcare projects throughout the world.
The Cancer Center is the first of a four-phase $137.5 million master plan that also involves changes in the St. Bernards Heartcare Center, the construction of a new five-story Surgery and Intensive Care Tower immediately west of the Cancer Center, relocation of emergency services access to South Church Street and extensive renovation of the present medical center. Work already is underway to move emergency access and at the Heartcare Center.
The first three phases – the Cancer Center, Heartcare Center and Surgery and Intensive Care Tower (including relocation of emergency access) – are expected to be completed in the winter of 2018-19.
St. Bernards Medical Center is a 438-bed acute care hospital that serves as a regional referral center for 23 counties in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri, seeing the sickest of the sick in the area. It is the only Level III Trauma Center in the region and has the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Eastern Arkansas.
St. Bernards was established by the Olivetan Benedictine sisters of Holy Angels Convent to meet needs of residents during a malarial fever epidemic and took its first patients on July 5, 1900. It has served as the area’s trusted provider of comprehensive, compassionate healthcare services for 116 years.