HCI's Hospital Expansion: More Room for Healing and Hope

When Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) founders first envisioned the cancer center, they dreamed of a state-of-the-art institution that would provide healing and hope to those who suffer from the disease. The dream was realized with the opening of the research center in 1999 and the hospital in 2004. But by 2005 the hospital was already at full capacity in inpatient beds, operating rooms, and outpatient clinics. So in 2011, with the opening of a 156,000-square-foot expansion to the hospital, HCI extended the dream of providing healing and hope to more cancer patients than ever before.

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In the days leading up to the opening, HCI hosted several activities designed to share the new space with the public. At a community open house, more than 500 people toured the facility. An employee reception opened the space to HCI faculty, staff, and families to tour through the new addition. The Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program celebrated its new inpatient unit and 20 years of BMT service in Utah with a reunion of current and former BMT patients, their families, and BMT physicians and nurses (read the story).

On Friday, October 28, 2011, in front of more than 600 people, HCI formally dedicated the hospital expansion. The ceremony included HCI founders and principal benefactors, Jon M. and Karen Huntsman, former Governor Jon Huntsman, University of Utah Interim President Lorris Betz, Senator Orrin Hatch, and Governor Gary Herbert. Cancer survivor guests of honor, recognized with white carnation boutonnieres, sat in the audience. The special event culminated in a ribbon cutting by two HCI patients, Dov Siporin and Linda Hill.

patients and huntsmans cut ribbon at dedication ceremony

HCI now provides 100 private inpatient rooms, more than 100 outpatient exam and procedure rooms, and eight operating rooms, effectively doubling our patient care capacity. "We have also more than doubled the size of our clinical and translational research programs," said Mary Beckerle, PhD, HCI's CEO and Director. "The hospital expansion provides further opportunity to bring the most promising research discoveries to the patient's bedside."

The facilities include a new Center for Infusion and Advanced Therapeutics, a new inpatient BMT unit, new imaging technologies including an intraoperative MRI, an expanded Cancer Learning Center, an expanded Wellness-Survivorship Center, and a Center for Breast Health that combines all breast cancer screening and care in one location.

The new Center for Infusion and Advanced Therapeutics demonstrates HCI's commitment to provide relaxation and comfort for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Reclining chairs, accompanied by televisions and blanket warmers, face sweeping views of downtown Salt Lake and the surrounding mountains. All HCI patients, including those participating on clinical trials, receive treatment in this state-of-the-art infusion space. Watch the video below about the new Infusion Suite.

HCI's latest imaging technology, an intraoperative MRI scanner, is the first in the Intermountain West. The scanner moves on ceiling-mounted rails into the operating room during surgery, allowing surgeons to see whether any tumor tissue remains. Watch the video below about the new intraoperative MRI.

Also among the facilities is an intensive care unit (ICU), a brand-new service at HCI. Designed with input from University Hospital's ICU staff and HCI hospital staff, the unit is dedicated to the critical needs of cancer patients. The unit's amenities are first-rate—attractive finishes, wonderful views, and cutting-edge technology. But, according to Ray Lynch, MBA, CPA, Executive Director of the cancer hospital, "the most noteworthy aspect is the experience and qualifications of the nursing staff and physicians. Our ICU has a unique combination of care from the intensive care team and the patient's cancer team. Our patients are getting the best skills the entire system has to offer."

With a belief that research equals hope, HCI leaders are committed to expanding HCI's pool of world-class researchers and clinicians. In 2011, HCI leadership, in partnership with several academic departments at the University of Utah, recruited 17 new physicians and scientists from such prestigious institutions as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Mayo Clinic, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The recruits bring expertise in such research areas as molecular mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance in lung cancer; new cancer treatments for breast and neuro-oncology using genomic analysis; drug development in patients with advanced solid tumors; genetic changes associated with leukemia and certain solid tumors; and cancer survivorship and long-term employment outcomes for adult survivors of childhood cancer.

"One of our highest priorities to ensure success in the long term is the recruitment of world-class researchers, clinicians, and administrators," says Beckerle. "We will continue in the coming years to recruit the best and brightest minds in cancer."