A new cancer program at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is the answer to a question.
That question: How could SMH pull its resources together and improve cancer care for area patients?
The new program will involve building on facilities and services to serve patients comprehensively, including through prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up care, survivorship and support. Sarasota Memorial Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Fiorica tells Coffee Talk the program will be a way to treat patients cohesively as a group.
The Sarasota County Hospital Board, which oversees the nonprofit, recently approved a $220 million investment for the first two phases of the program.
The initial phases include a new cancer inpatient and surgical tower on SMH's main campus, expected to be completed in 2021, and an outpatient radiation treatment center on its University Parkway campus, expected to be finished in 2020. The third phase involves building a new cancer pavilion with outpatient services, which will go across from the main hospital.
Flad Architects will design the cancer inpatient and surgical tower and the outpatient radiation treatment center. Alabama-based general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie will manage construction of the tower. Gainesville-based Charles Perry Partners Inc. and Sarasota-based Willis Smith Construction will build the radiation center.
Fiorica says given the demographics in the state and in Sarasota, SMH is overdue to develop the physical structure for cancer treatment. “We're not behind in providing the care,” he says. “We're behind in expanding our resources to make them comprehensive and better for the patients.”
The goal is for SMH to be seen as a regional cancer center that performs at the same quality level as the hospital. Another benefit, Fiorica says, is the program will allow local patients to stay in the area and be close to family instead of traveling elsewhere for treatment.
SMH spokeswoman Kim Savage says the cancer program will incorporate the best services and features the SMH team has researched and seen at work nationwide. She says they want it to be warm, welcoming and patient-centered.
SMH is already recruiting additional oncologists from around the country for the program. “One of the things SMH wants to do is produce a quality product,” Fiorica says. “If they're going into a service line like oncology, they want to make sure they do it right.”