$42M cancer center poised to take patients

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AUGUSTA (AP) – The new Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care has no “patient beds” and is not a hospital.

Instead, the $42 million facility, operated by MaineGeneral Health, will provide out-patient cancer treatment, blood work and examinations for 150 to 160 people a day.

The center’s first patients arrive Monday, ahead of the official opening ceremonies set for the weekend of July 21-22.

“I’ll be there if they have to carry me,” said Harold Alfond, who’s 93 and suffers from cancer. Known statewide for his philanthropic work, Alfond donated $5 million toward the center’s construction and later offered an additional $2 million if the facility is fully functional by Aug. 1.

“It’s gorgeous,” he said of the three-story, glass-and-tile building off Interstate 95 that offers views of gardens and green space from virtually every location. “I never believed it could be done that well so fast.”

The 55,000-square-foot center’s key functions will be providing chemotherapy and radiation services now delivered by 100 medical staff members at MaineGeneral Medical Center hospitals in Waterville and Augusta.

The center’s medical director, Dr. Andrew Hertler, said the building on the site of a former nine-hole golf course should brighten the spirits of everyone inside.

“The design of the building can improve outcomes,” he told one group of donors.

Maribeth Canning, vice president for philanthropy at MaineGeneral Health, agreed.

“The whole idea was to bring the outside in,” Canning said. “We’re creating a natural environment by bringing the outdoors in and setting patients at ease. This is designed not to feel medicinal, but to feel more holistic.”

Some 3,800 donors, large and small, contributed $14.2 million toward the project.



Information from: Kennebec Journal, http://www.kjonline.com/

AP-ES-07-08-07 1124EDT

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