SARASOTA, Fla. (Jan. 16, 2018) – Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is moving ahead with plans to develop a comprehensive cancer program with premier facilities that will offer services across the entire continuum of cancer care — from prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment, to follow-up care, survivorship and support.
The Sarasota County Public Hospital Board today approved $220 million to begin the first two phases of the “destination” cancer program to serve a growing number of cancer patients in southwest Florida. The initial phases of the master plan include building a new cancer inpatient and surgical tower on Sarasota Memorial’s main campus and a state-of-the-art outpatient radiation treatment center on its campus at University Parkway. A third phase that is not yet scheduled involves building a new cancer pavilion with a full complement of outpatient cancer care services on Waldemere Street, across from the main hospital, as well as extending the programs and services to SMH’s Laurel Road campus in south Sarasota County.
When complete, the new facilities will deliver far more than tests and treatments. They will be a center of excellence for personalized cancer care that brings more fellowship-trained oncology specialists and subspecialists to our region and provides the expertise and resources to pinpoint each patient’s unique cancer and tailor treatment for the best possible outcomes.
“Our goal is to provide our cancer patients with access not only to the latest technologies and treatments, but also the widening group of oncology subspecialists and collaborative care needed to support people through diagnosis, treatment, recovery and beyond,” Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder said.
Hospital leaders will spend the coming weeks evaluating and ranking architects, engineers and general contractors to design and build the first two facilities simultaneously over the next two to three years. SMH plans to host several community workshops and neighborhood meetings in the coming weeks to discuss plans with interested community members and residents who live in nearby neighborhoods, as well as begin meeting with city and regional planning officials.
The projects include:
- Inpatient & Surgical Oncology Tower: The 170,000-square-foot, seven-story inpatient and surgical oncology tower will be built on SMH’s main campus. Design is slated to begin later this year with construction completed in 2021. In addition to increasing much needed capacity throughout the main hospital, the new cancer tower will consolidate cancer care services in a patient-centered facility with its own parking and entrance, dedicated lobby and registration area; cancer support services; eight new operating rooms, including dedicated robotic surgery suites; and two upper floors with 56 private rooms for hospitalized cancer patients. The tower will connect to the main hospital on multiple levels, ensuring critical 24/7 access to other clinical and emergency care services.
- Radiation Oncology Center: The 25,000-square-foot outpatient radiation oncology center will be built on the health system’s University Parkway/Honore campus and will include two linear accelerators, a CT simulator for radiation therapy, physician offices and integrative/ supportive care services. Design is expected to begin this year with construction completed in early 2020.
An Oncology Leadership Group of local physicians and hospital staff have been meeting regularly for the past year to provide guidance as the health system assessed the community’s cancer care needs and developed programming that prioritizes multi-disciplinary coordination, greater specialization, and the latest information technologies, including those that use artificial intelligence to develop advanced algorithms to help in the fight against cancer. Specialty programs initially will target the community’s most prevalent cancer diagnoses: breast, prostate/GU, GYN, GI/colorectal and lung cancers, with a phased approach to include neuro-oncology, melanoma and hematologic malignancies in the future.
Even though the nation’s mortality rates are falling, the number of cancer cases is on the rise, especially in Florida with its larger elderly population. Sarasota Memorial’s cancer cases increased 20 percent from 2014 to 2016, said GYN Oncologist and Sarasota Memorial’s Chief Medical Officer James Fiorica, MD.
“The good news is that there is a massive amount of research and data helping us to personalize and target individual cancers more effectively than ever before,” Dr. Fiorica said. “People are living longer, with their cancer either cured completely or managed like other chronic diseases. That’s where a comprehensive center like Sarasota Memorial can really make a difference. We know our patients, and with our decades of experience, we have the widest skillset to not only treat our patients’ cancer, but also manage secondary illnesses and chronic diseases that put them at greater risk as they age.”
About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of care, with more than 900,000 patient visits each year. Its flagship 829-bed, acute-care hospital has been consistently recognized as one of the nation’s largest and best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services – from urgent care, trauma and emergency services to laboratory and diagnostic imaging, home health, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. SMH is the only hospital in Florida to have consistently earned the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid's Services highest five-star quality award since the rating system launched in 2016.