N.C. Cancer Hospital serves patients, doctors
Posted September 15, 2009 4:03 a.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2009 6:03 p.m. EDT
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — State leaders celebrated the opening of North Carolina's only public hospital specifically designed for cancer treatment Tuesday in Chapel Hill.
Patients have been getting treatment at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital since mid-August, but Gov. Beverly Perdue, University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles, legislative leaders and cancer patients were on hand Tuesday for the grand opening.
The new hospital, built over four years, brings cancer specialists and cancer patients all under one roof. It is the home of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The hospital replaces a decades-old building that was originally used as a tuberculosis sanitarium and had been renovated many times. "Those patients and doctors who've worked in the Gravely building ... which was designed in 1952 ... It takes their breath away when they walk into this place," said oncologist Dr. Richard Goldberg.
The new 315,000-square-foot building has triple the space for patient care, with 50 inpatient beds and 72 stations to receive chemotherapy. There's also a new office building for doctors, and UNC officials said the project could create 190 jobs in the next year.
The two buildings cost $207 million. The General Assembly authorized $180 million for the project in 2004.
Goldberg, physician-in-chief of the N.C. Cancer Hospital, said the facility is designed with the patient in mind.
Chemotherapy infusion rooms, in the basement in the old hospital are located on upper floors. "It has individual patient stations with individual TVs," he added.
Former cancer patient Wanda Wooten said she thinks the new hospital will give others battling the disease "a feeling of wholeness."
"It's airy. It's filled with good colors of nature and health (and has) lots of windows," Wooten said. "I just think it will be able to help their recovery."
The hospital allows more space for multiple specialists to meet and discuss a patient's treatment strategy. Patients can visit various doctors in one trip, Goldberg pointed out.
"It's a long day, but it's one day with everything planned out and set up," he said.
The hospital has a spacious cancer resource center, a library, quiet spaces, sunny rooms for relaxation therapy and a boutique.
Goldberg said the surroundings finally match the expertise and state of the art medical technology UNC doctors and staff use to treat cancer patients. When they need to, doctors in Chapel Hill can connect with patients and doctors across the state from a "tele-medicine room."
"This new approach of teleconferencing can get our patients expert second opinions without the need to travel, without the need to duplicate tests," Dr. Keith Lero said.