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Published on October 09, 2009

Illinois Regional Cancer Center to Expand Building

October 09, 2009 - By Dana Herra, Daily Chronicle

DeKALB – A planned expansion to to the Illinois Regional Cancer Center would make the center a one-stop shop for patients receiving cancer treatment, according to officials with KishHealth System.

The proposed 21,000-square-foot addition to the 5,500-square-foot center would bring all the health system’s cancer therapies under one roof, said Michael Kokott, assistant vice president of marketing and planning. Currently, patients receive radiation therapy in the cancer center, but must go to different parts of the KishHealth campus for chemotherapy and drug treatment and for diagnostic tests like CT scans and lab work.

“Presently, our cancer services are extremely splintered,” Kokott said. “For you and me, having to go to three different buildings in one day might be inconvenient, but for some of these patients, just going outside, especially in the heat of summer or the cold of winter, is more than uncomfortable. It’s more than inconvenient.”

Kokott said oncology is the fastest-growing area of service offered by the health system. The current space devoted to medical oncology – chemotherapy and drug treatment – is also too small and outdated to fully meet patients’ needs, said Debbie Bemis, director of oncology services. 

The expanded building would accommodate diagnostic scans, a lab, medical oncology, radiation oncology, classroom space and complementary medicine like massage therapy, Bemis said.

“It’s a more patient-centered, patient-focused healing environment,” she said.

The building would also house a boutique carrying items like wigs and prostheses that can be hard for cancer patients to find, Kokott said.

“So often during the treatment of cancer, a patient’s dignity is removed,” he said. “They lose their hair and often have surgery that removes not only their tumor but a part of their body. They’re sick and they feel horrible about themselves.”

The expansion is expected to cost about $14 million, Kokott said, and is expected to be funded through a combination of federal grants, funds from the KishHealth Foundation and financing from local banks. Ideally, Kokott said, the health system would like to at least get a temporary construction parking lot established this fall with construction to begin in earnest in the spring. 

The construction is not expected to disrupt services presently provided at the center.

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