University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Set to Open New Cancer Center

By Cindy Hadish, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The first of three new cancer clinics will open Monday in the Corridor.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics opens the doors to its new $12 million clinic after several years of planning, said Dr. George Weiner, director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"We're going to be close to full the day we open up," Weiner said.

Last year, the cancer clinic had 45,000 patient visits, with 12,500 infusion suites visits for chemotherapy. Those numbers are expected to increase in the coming year.

Weiner said the incidence of cancer hasn't increased in Iowa, but the availability of cancer treatments has.

More patients also are being diagnosed earlier and are seen in outpatient clinics rather than staying in the hospital, he said.

The new 64,000-square-foot cancer clinic and infusion suites occupies two floors of the hospital's Pomerantz Family Pavilion, above the radiology oncology department in the lower level.

Previous space was cramped compared to the new clinic, with 37 exam rooms – up from the current 30 – and two procedure rooms.

The second-floor infusion suite grew from 28 chairs to 40, eight of which are in private rooms.

Patients offered their insight in the planning process, which included a new design for the infusion chairs, said nurse manager Ami Gaarde.

Gaarde said patients can spend from 30 minutes to 8 hours in the chairs to receive chemotherapy.

Patients and staff collaborated with a regional company to create a new chair that is more comfortable and easier for patients to use, she said.

Weiner said the new clinic is designed for efficiency.

That includes team-specific staff workrooms to improve patient tracking and a pneumatic tube system that can deliver samples to the lab in two minutes, rather than the 13 minutes for current delivery.

The center, which conducts nearly 300 clinical trials at any time, also includes more space for research.

Weiner said those trials can provide experimental treatments different than what is available for cancer patients elsewhere.

He noted that the new clinic is not in response to other new cancer clinics in the Corridor.

In Cedar Rapids, the Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center of Iowa is scheduled to open in January 2013 in the $47 million Physicians' Clinic of Iowa Medical Pavilion, under construction at 10th Street and Second Avenue SE.

Mercy Medical Center is building another facility just a few blocks away in Cedar Rapids. The $24.6 million Hall-Perrine Cancer Center is scheduled to open in March 2012.
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