The Tri-Cities Cancer Center in Kennewick is wrapping up its 20th anniversary year — and it’s looking to the future as it passes that milestone.
A renovation and expansion of the facility on West Deschutes Avenue is happening. The cancer center also is bringing in a new piece of technology — an advanced radiosurgery system.
And it’s hiring a third radiation oncologist. Dr. Guy Jones, a Hanford High School graduate who currently works as the National Cancer Institute’s chief resident at the National Institutes of Health, starts in the fall.
He will join Dr. Sue Mandell, the medical director, and Dr. Juno Choe.
It’s an exciting time for the cancer center, officials said. In the facility’s 20-year history, cancer-fighting technology has changed
“What hasn’t changed is the mission and commitment to the healing of people with cancer,” said Phil Gallagher, Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation board president.
The new Edge Radiosurgery System from Varian, which will replace the center’s older treatment unit, comes in this spring. Only one other has been installed on the West Coast, officials said.
Gallagher said the system will bring greater precision and power. “You can shorten the impact on the patient’s life, get the treatments done in a shorter time frame,” he told the Herald.
The price tag is about $4 million. The cancer center is covering the cost.
The renovation and expansion will cost $3 million. The cancer center and the foundation are splitting the bill; the foundation already has about $1 million of its $1.5 million share.
The work will expand the existing four exam rooms and add on three more, along with another three that will serve as space for visiting specialty physicians and a survivorship clinic.
CEO Chuck DeGooyer said survivorship is an important focus as more people beat the disease. “Patients are surviving cancer, they’re living longer lives. The followup that’s required to really be on the edge, to make sure if they have a recurrence we catch it early, is really what the survivorship clinic is all about,” he said.
The exam rooms will be about a quarter bigger than the existing ones, with more space for family members and technology. They’ll have flat screens, for example, to display scans and other information
“The new space has been designed with patients in mind. It’s created a lot of private areas, too, for patients — if they need nursing support, to work with a scheduler, if they have financial concerns. In every place, they’ll find privacy,” said Elizabeth McLaughlin, foundation director.
The renovation and expansion work will take about 1 1/2 to 2 years. Operations will continue during construction.
DeGooyer, who became CEO in 2013 after helping lead the American Cancer Society’s Great West Division for a decade, helped guide the formation of the cancer center years ago.
He was at the groundbreaking ceremony. “My words on that day were, ‘I look forward to closing this place’” because it’s no longer needed, DeGooyer told the Herald.
“That’s got to be our vision. That’s everyone’s goal,” he added. “In the meantime, (we’ll) take care of the patients, take care of the families, take care of the community.”