Cancer Center Plans Expansion
(January 14, 2005) — Driven by steady growth in its cancer care program, Froedtert Hospital will break ground this spring on a major construction project that will expand the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center, adding 173,000 square feet of space for cancer clinical programs, research and faculty offices.
In November, the Medical College of Wisconsin announced plans to build a new Biomedical Research Building dedicated to cancer and other types of medical research. According to Bill Petasnick, president and chief executive officer of Froedtert & Community Health, the two projects are a logical pairing that enhances the Medical College’s capacity to conduct research and Froedtert Hospital’s capabilities in patient care.
“Our cancer center expansion is part of a collaborative effort to develop a cancer program that is one of the most comprehensive in the state,” said Petasnick. “Patients will benefit from an enhanced model of clinical care complemented by the exceptional research capabilities of the Medical College of Wisconsin.”
T. Michael Bolger, JD, president and chief executive officer of the Medical College of Wisconsin, echoed Petasnick’s comments, noting that cancer center physicians conduct approximately 130 adult clinical trials in cancer every year.
“Redesigning and expanding the cancer center supports the complementary strategies of the Medical College and Froedtert Hospital to integrate research and clinical work,” Bolger said. “It will also give us an edge in competing on a national scale for physicians, funding and participation in clinical trials.”
Both buildings are slated for completion in 2007.
Petasnick said demand for outpatient cancer treatment increased significantly over the past five years at the Froedtert & the Medical College Cancer Center, with growth in medical and radiation oncology programs increasing by 33%. Outpatient cancer surgeries were up by 38%, with inpatient admissions up 12%.
“Our experience clearly reflects the continuing trend toward outpatient rather than inpatient care, and this expansion plan takes a long view designed to address it,” Petasnick said.
The centerpiece of the Froedtert expansion is a redesign of the cancer center to create a treatment “hub” around the patient that coordinates all aspects of care.
“We call it a patient-centric model for cancer care,” said J. Frank Wilson, MD, chairman of radiation oncology for Froedtert & the Medical College. “Published standards from internationally recognized organizations such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network confirm that highly coordinated, multidisciplinary diagnostic and treatment processes produce the best possible outcomes for patients,” Wilson said. “Over the past few years, there has been an unfortunate proliferation of stand-alone, community-based medical and radiation oncology facilities that has created a fragmented care environment for cancer patients. We believe the needs of cancer patients come before those of physicians, staff or the institution.
“This cancer center plan incorporates our existing technology and capabilities, uniting all disciplines under one roof in a comprehensive, efficient and highly accessible approach to cancer care that will be unique in the region,” Wilson said.
Key features of the expansion include a dedicated cancer center building with its own entrance and parking to ease access for patients; clinical care for all types of cancer through 12 disease-specific, multidisciplinary cancer programs; support services such as laboratory, imaging, dietary, psychosocial and pastoral care; and space for research facilities and international cancer data registries.
Despite strong growth and the high volume of complex cancer cases it handles, the cost of cancer care at the Froedtert & the Medical College Cancer Center is the second-lowest in southeastern Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Office of Healthcare Information, which collects state healthcare data, Froedtert & the Medical College’s inpatient cancer care charges (severity adjusted) have decreased steadily over the past five years, and in 2003, were nearly 30% below the average charges of other major providers in the area.
“We expect this building project to have minimal impact on our rate structure,” Petasnick said. “Our annual rate increases should approximate the current level, which is well below the market average in southeastern Wisconsin.”
Petasnick cited the hospital’s “logical not lavish” construction philosophy as a key factor in the fiscally conservative plan, which in addition to the cancer center expansion includes reallocating and consolidating existing clinical areas and constructing an additional 67,000 square feet of new clinical space to serve cardiovascular and neurosciences outpatients; upgrading and expanding the Emergency Center and refurbishing several other areas; adding office space for nearly 100 recently recruited physicians; and improving parking access. (Please see fact sheet for more construction specifics.)
The entire construction project will add a total of 248,000 square feet to the hospital’s "footprint" and will cost approximately $120 million. It will be financed through a combination of debt and donor support and is consistent with the organization’s longstanding policy of pricing restraint, Petasnick said.
“We took a long-term, integrated view of our outpatient and support space needs and came up with a master facility plan that will meet those needs through at least 2012,” Petasnick said. “This plan makes the most of our current space, preserves the investment we’ve already made in existing buildings, and most importantly, supports a multidisciplinary program approach that enhances patient care.”
The cancer center expansion also has the potential to fuel the state’s economic development efforts, particularly in the area of high technology, according to Bolger of the Medical College.
“This project is a significant step toward creating a knowledge-based economy for Milwaukee,” Bolger said. “It represents a powerful economic engine that will attract top cancer scientists and physicians to the community who will, in turn, attract research funding, and will support the development of new and existing businesses in the biotechnology field.”
As one of approximately 125 academic medical centers in the nation and one of just two in Wisconsin, Froedtert & the Medical College is deeply involved in medical research and already garners significant federal and private research dollars. In 2004, the Medical College received nearly $10 million for cancer research, Bolger said.
In the past four years, more than 25 physicians who treat cancer have joined the Medical College faculty, for a total of more than 200 physicians and scientists who collaborate on patient care and cancer research.
Bolger noted that in addition to expanding space for outpatient cancer services, the cancer center plan provides housing for important data-driven research groups such as the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, which collects data on outcomes of blood and marrow transplants performed at hundreds of medical centers worldwide.
Author: Kathy Sieja
Date: Kroll Jan. 14, 2005
Last Review Date: January 14, 2005
Online Editor(s): Tamara Kroll