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Vanderbilt-Ingram clinic space expanding to meet needs of patients

Feb. 23, 2007, 7:19 AM

When the dust settles on a new renovation project involving Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center‘s Henry-Joyce Cancer Clinic, waiting room space and exam rooms will nearly double to help meet the needs of an ever increasing number of cancer patients in Middle Tennessee and beyond.

With Vanderbilt-Ingram seeing approximately 52,000 outpatient visits alone in the last fiscal year, adding more space to handle the influx was inevitable. “The numbers have skyrocketed by about 60 percent since 2002,” said David Johnson, M.D., deputy director of Vanderbilt-Ingram. “They have leveled off a bit, but only because there is a limit to what we can physically do. We can‘t fit in any more people.”

The renovation plan is set to begin in Mayand take about a year and a half. The current space of about 58,000 square feet will be bumped up to about 116,000 square feet once the work is done. The changes will take place in several stages, so the business of seeing and treating patients can continue through the makeover process.

In the first phase, space on the second floor of The Vanderbilt Clinic (TVC) will be slightly redesigned to be used for cancer exam rooms. The current exam rooms in the Cancer Clinic will move up to that second floor space for an interim period. Once vacated, the current Cancer Clinic space will be gutted and redesigned. During this phase, the main building entrance for patients will be relocated to move everyone in cancer care in and out of the Preston Building entrance off of Pierce Avenue. Patients will no longer enter the clinic from the TVC entrance by the Outpatient Pharmacy.

In the second phase of the project, cancer care will move back down to a newly designed clinic and the old space on the second floor of TVC will be renovated to become the new infusion area for cancer treatment. The old infusion area will become the new main clinic lobby and waiting area. So patients will walk right from the Preston Lobby to the check-in area of the new clinic and waiting area. The existing skylights will stay in place to allow the sunshine to flow into the space and brighten the entrance and waiting room experience.

In addition, the new space will have about 100 chairs for patients and loved ones in the waiting area. “Our patients frequently come with two to three family members or friends who provide support during the cancer treatment journey,” said Carol Eck, R.N., M.B.A., administrative director of the Cancer Patient Care Center. “We want for them to be able to wait in a comfortable and inviting area. A Family Resource room will be conveniently located off the waiting area where patients and family members will be able to access many types of information regarding cancer care and resources available for before, during and after treatment,” she added.

The new infusion area on the second floor will include 46 rooms with a mixture of chairs and stretchers and 40 chairs in the waiting room. In addition, many of the treatment rooms will have a window. The new space will include some fully private rooms, a family break and dining area, and an IV pharmacy in the center of the unit. The new infusion area will feature a team concept, grouping patients in clusters based on their diagnosis or needs from their providers. “This expansion will allow our professional cancer care team to meet the needs of our patients and families with more efficiency and effectiveness,” said Jennifer Woods, M.B.A., B.S.N., R.N., manager of the Cancer Patient Care Center.

As part of its efforts to better serve an expanding population of cancer patients, Vanderbilt-Ingram is also engaged in a comprehensive strategic planning process for its clinical care program. Atlanta-based Oncology Solutions, which has worked with hundreds of clients including many academic-based cancer programs, the National Cancer Institute and NCI-designated centers, has been engaged to assist.

Once the renovation work is complete, Vanderbilt-Ingram officials say cancer patients will have their own elevators and stairwell to get to the infusion area on the second floor without traveling alongside other Vanderbilt patients that could put immune-compromised cancer patients at risk.

More growth is already on the horizon to keep up with the number of people seeking care here. Johnson said outpatient visits are up 35 percent since 2002, more than 90 percent of the care delivered at Vanderbilt-Ingram is on an outpatient basis, and up to half of all cancer patients here come from over 100 miles away.

Growth in the clinic involves many factors, including the swelling of the aging population, but it‘s also because there are more cancer survivors. In 2006, numbers grew to over 10 million living cancer survivors in the United States. “Once an individual receives a diagnosis of cancer they understandably believe any symptom from that point forward could be a recurrence of their cancer. Consequently, survivors often want to be followed regularly by their oncologist. Some even call us for simple colds. We often end up serving as both oncology and primary care providers,” said Johnson.

Eck added that despite the volume Vanderbilt-Ingram‘s outcomes remain strong, soaring above others in the Middle Tennessee region and rising above others nationally, as well. “Our survival rates are better regionally and nationally above many. We consistently exceed the national benchmarks,” Eck said. Johnson added, “Our numbers are not just a little better, they are a lot better than the national average.”

Officials at Vanderbilt-Ingram estimate the price tag on the entire upgrade at about $15 million, with $10 million of that money coming from planned philanthropic efforts. ### About the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center: The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is dedicated to a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to cancer care, research, prevention, and patient and community education. With nearly 300 investigators, Vanderbilt-Ingram is ranked among the top 10 centers in total research funding from the National Cancer Institute and generates more than $150 million each year in research support from public and private sources. Vanderbilt-Ingram is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Tennessee and one of only 39 to achieve this distinction nationwide. The center is consistently recognized among the best places for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report. For more information, visit us online at www.vicc.org.

Media Contact: Heather Newman Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (615) 936-7245 Heather.newman@vanderbilt.edu

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