By LINDSAY CAREY
The Hartford Healthcare Cancer Institute at the Hospital of Central Connecticut will be a full outpatient service center for a wide range of cancer patients on the Plainville-New Britain town line.
The cancer institute, which will have its grand opening in May, will offer treatment for the four most common types of cancer including breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. There are also a significant number of patients with kidney and bladder cancer, who will also be welcomed at the center.
In addition to the common types of cancer, patients with rare forms of the disease can be treated as well.
“We think about cancer as kind of organ based, but we will be treating some of the more hidden and rare forms of cancer,” said the director of the Hartford Healthcare Cancer Institute at the Hospital of Central Connecticut Donna Handley. “We really have the capability and treat all kinds of cancer. The only kind that we won’t be treating is pediatric.”
Although the center will not provide inpatient services and surgery, there are a full range of outpatient services that will be offered at the 135,000 sq. foot facility.
“Cancer care for patients is very complicated and complex,” said Handley. “Many patients receive multiple forms of therapy at the same time. We are putting in one large building most of the services cancer patients will need.”
Essentially the new cancer institute will serve as a one stop shop for cancer patients by providing several services in one place, instead of patients having to travel to different locations for their different treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.
“They only have to come to one place their care will be coordinated by our physicians, so patients don’t have to travel as much,” said Handley. “It gives them the gift of time with their families, because their treatment and physicians are all in one place.”
The facility has two sides. One side of the building is called the Medical Arts Building and the other side is the cancer center.
The Medical Arts part of the building will not exclusively cater to just cancer patients. In this area, private practices and physicians will be able to see their patients.
On the medical arts side of the building is a comprehensive breast center and an imaging center. The breast center will provide mammograms, ultrasounds and breath health consultation with physicians The imaging center will offer PET scans, CTs, MRIs, CAT scans, ultrasounds and x rays.
On the cancer center side of the building, patients will be greeted from the moment they enter the building.
“We designed the building to have a flow for the patients coming for treatment,” said Handley. “It should be very easy for patients to navigate the building.”
Inside the center, patients will find a gift shop and lab as well a resource area with computers, literature, and a trained educator for patients to learn more about their cancer. Another way patients can learn more about cancer is through the administrator offices, where patient education lectures and support group meetings will be held.
“The whole program has been designed around the patient and the patient experience,” said Handley.
The cancer center also will offer radiation therapy, a large infusion center, surgical oncology services, a medical oncology clinic, chemotherapy, a meditation room and a physical therapy room.
Physical therapy can help patients maintain their energy level with supervised exercise, which helps because some of the cancer treatments can cause fatigue. The center also has a healing garden and walk way for patients to enjoy nature. Many of the rooms in the center overlook the trees in the garden.
A clinical research team also will be available at the center to provide patients with access to clinical trials. Hartford Healthcare’s partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering will provide allow patients to try new drugs and treatments at the center, before they’re released to the public.
Cancer patients from the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain will be migrating over department by department to make the transition as smooth as possible for each patient. The grand opening of the institute will be held in May.
Staff has begun to be trained in the new building and with the new equipment.
“Every little detail has been addressed so we’re ready for the first patient,” said Handley.
In the meantime, the cancer center staff is working with an operational design team and has been holding weekly meetings for over a year to carry a detailed plan for moving and installing equipment.
The Hartford Healthcare Cancer Institute at the Hospital of Central Connecticut is seeking volunteers between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Volunteers are welcome to work a full day or a half day depending on what works for them.
“Many volunteers have a particular area of interest and we work with each volunteer to get them in that area,” said Handley.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Lindsay Carey, email her at LCarey@SouthingtonObserver.com.