Newswise — Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center expands its cancer services with the opening in December 2013 of a six-floor addition to its Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The $125 million project will add four inpatient floors, one day hospital floor, and one administrative floor, consolidating inpatient and outpatient services in a stand-alone cancer hospital, the first such facility in the region.

The expansion will increase the number of oncology inpatient beds to 148 acute care and 44 observation beds, from its current 113-bed complement. The specific cancer care services to be moved to the new facility were selected after a comprehensive review of internal capacity, projected need and demand for oncology inpatient beds.

“This project aligns with our commitment to developing an integrated health care delivery system, and provides the infrastructure required to grow advanced clinical programs – driven largely by our cutting edge research and compassionate care – that will continue to distinguish Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center as a top-tier academic medical center,” said John D. McConnell, M.D., chief executive officer.

Already one of the most active cancer treatment facilities along the United States’ eastern coast, when completed, the cancer hospital will include a total of 530,600 square feet, making it the largest integrated cancer hospital in the state. It features a courtyard nestled in the center of the upper floors, making use of natural light throughout. All rooms will be private and are designed to accommodate patients and their families in a peaceful environment to spend time together.

Cancer is one of the fastest-growing services of the medical center and the inpatient service is at capacity. The project accommodates current and projected cancer-related inpatient volumes, includes a dedicated oncology intensive care unit, and frees up space on the main campus for other services.

About 24 additional intensivists – physicians who specialize in the care of critically ill patients – and midlevel providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, will join the team of more than 120 clinicians and scientists representing all aspects of cancer care and research.

Outpatient services include radiation oncology, including Gamma Knife Center; hematology and oncology clinics, thoracic oncology program, clinical research management program, outpatient radiology, breast care center, and multi-specialty and surgical oncology clinics.

“Our mission is to care and to cure,” McConnell said. “When it comes to cancer treatment, this expansion enables the medical center to take an outstanding program and put it under one roof which will only enhance the overall patient experience. We truly will be a comprehensive cancer hospital, and offering both inpatient and outpatient services in a single facility will improve patient access, convenience and satisfaction.”

The cancer center expansion provides the infrastructure required to grow advanced clinical programs that will continue to distinguish Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center as an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center and one of the top 50 cancer hospitals in country (U.S. News & World Report 2012). As one of only 41 institutions in the country to be NCI-designated, the expansion enables Wake Forest Baptist to continue to offer the latest and most effective treatments and advanced technologies.

The Comprehensive Cancer Center has built a team of nationally and internationally recognized experts who are committed to providing the best care possible. Patient and family support services are here to help patients so they know they have someone experienced to count on when they need it. The commitment to cancer research is why so many cancer survivors successfully fight their disease. Patients undergoing treatment hope that cancer researchers will find the keys to unlock the particular mysteries of their cancers. Because research brings hope, basic science, clinical and public health researchers at the Comprehensive Cancer Center collaborate to answer complex questions that lead to promising new treatments and therapies. Research programs are structured to optimize multidisciplinary and translational research. Researchers work together to take the most promising discoveries from the laboratory into the clinic for the benefit of patients and the cancer community as a whole. Currently, there are nearly 250 cancer-related clinical trials underway at the medical center and more than 1,000 patients per year enroll in one or more of the trials offered.

--------------------------------------------------------------Wake Forest Comprehensive Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. These centers are characterized by scientific excellence and the capability to integrate a diversity of research approaches to focus on the problem of cancer. They play a vital role in advancing towards NCI's goal of reducing morbidity and mortality from cancer.

This piece does not represent the views of the National Institutes of Health.