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Cancer institute project to begin at Boca Raton Community

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http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/ ... -news-palm

By Patty Pensa

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Posted March 20 2007

Boca Raton – A cancer institute set to open in late 2008 is designed to centralize cancer care. No longer will patients have the added stress of traveling from doctor to doctor for consultations and treatment.

The two most critical specialties -- medical oncologists and radiation oncologists -- will be based at the Eugene M. and Christine E. Lynn Cancer Institute of Boca Raton Community Hospital. Surgeons will remain at the hospital, just blocks away, but will be instrumental in helping treat patients in this team approach adopted two years ago. The new facility will cap efforts to streamline patient care.

"Hopefully, the farthest a patient will have to go is from the third floor to the first," said Dr. Phil Smith, institute interim medical director.

Construction begins this week on the three-floor facility at Northwest 13th Street and Seventh Avenue. On Monday, hospital officials, donors and board members broke ground on the 98,000-square-foot cancer institute, part of the ongoing expansion at the hospital.

Earlier this year, the hospital opened the Christine E. Lynn Heart Institute after a 22-year battle to bring open-heart surgery there.

Its largest project, though, is to replace the current hospital with a medical center and teaching facility at nearby Florida Atlantic University. The $650 million facility is expected to open in 2011.

The cancer institute, also named for longtime benefactor Christine Lynn and her late husband, carries a $75 million price tag. A $20 million donation from philanthropists Harvey and Phyllis Sandler goes toward the building, to be named for the couple.

Harvey Sandler, a board member and cancer survivor, encouraged the crowd of donors, doctors, city officials and others to join in supporting hospital projects. "Look deep into your souls and your pockets and give and give and give until it feels real good," he said.

Other donations and borrowing is financing the project, hospital CEO Gary Strack said. The new cancer institute will have oncology, imaging, radiation, chemotherapy, support services and clinical research on site. Surgery and inpatient stays will remain at the hospital.

Considered one of the five busiest cancer centers in the state, the current facility has about 3,000 new patients a year, most with breast, prostate, colon and lung cancers. Officials expect about the same volume when the new center opens in 18 months.

The cancer institute will open with 11 medical oncologists and five radiation oncologists but Smith said he expects to hire more to handle the 20 to 30 cancers it will treat.

More common at large university settings, the team approach offers less stress, they said. Hospital officials tracked one particular patient, a lung cancer patient, who traveled 488 miles during the six weeks of treatment.

For Sunnie Jacobs, of Boca Raton, it was reassuring to have four specialists in the same building consulting on her care.

"What better care can you get?" asked Jacobs, a survivor of an aggressive form of breast cancer. "I had a second, third and fourth opinion."

Patty Pensa can be reached at ppensa@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6609.

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