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Health Team

Duke aims for $235M cancer center to be welcoming

Posted August 3, 2011 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated August 3, 2011 7:05 p.m. EDT

— The shaky economy hasn't slowed down recent hospital construction in the Triangle. The new Duke Cancer Center will open in February as the biggest project of all.

The $235 million center will bring all elements of outpatient cancer care together under one roof.

"We'll do a better job at integrating (services), but we will also have more space to provide those services," said Tracey Gosselin, an associate chief nursing officer in oncology.

The Duke Cancer Center is designed to be more welcoming for both patients and their families. It will alleviate patients' complaints that chemotherapy infusion rooms are too small, leaving 10 to 15 square feet per patient.

"In the new area, we're going to see 100 square feet per patient," Gosselin said.

Patients will have the option of being closer to each other for conversation, or they can choose more privacy. Patients lying down for radiation treatments can stare up an animated view of a starry sky.

People in waiting areas can watch TV or wait in other areas designed for less noise.

The new cancer center will let patients' relatives take a break without going far from their loved one.

"Leaving now means that you're still in the building. The cafe is there, the resource center, our shop, our quiet room," Gosselin said.

Even the spacious lobby is designed to be welcoming.

"The area itself will be a very nice, hospitality kind of feeling as you come in to get your treatment," construction director Shawn Subasic said.

The construction places Duke University Medical Center in a better position to serve an expected 21 percent increase in new cancer cases as baby boomers age.

The hospital is recruiting new nurses, more faculty and staff in a variety of supportive care services, such as social workers, dietitians and cancer counselors. A new pharmacy and mammography suite will also need workers.

The Duke Cancer Center is part of the new Duke Medicine Pavilion, scheduled to open in two years. The nearly $600 million project will offer 160 intensive and intermediate care rooms and 16 more operating rooms.

Elsewhere in the Triangle, UNC Hospitals opened the $178 million North Carolina Cancer Hospital in August 2009, and Rex Hospital in Raleigh will break ground on the $60 million North Carolina Cancer Hospital in late September.

WakeMed opened its $99 million children's hospital in May 2010.