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New Parkview Cancer Institute rises quickly

September 8th, 2016

By Linda Lipp | Fort Wayne Business Weekly 

The steel skeleton of the substantial new building going up on the campus of the Parkview Regional Medical Center belongs to what will become the Parkview Cancer Institute.

More impressive than the building itself, said Scott James, chief operating officer of the institute, is the comprehensive, integrated model of care the patient-centered facility will provide.

“Really, the building in my mind is minor compared to the culture of care we’re building,” James said. “The challenge is trying to take the focus of the public away from the brick and mortar, and on to the culture and programs for patients…It’s creating an identity and culture around oncology.”

Parkview announced plans for the new cancer institute nearly a year ago. A few adjustments have been made since, including the addition of a fifth floor that will be built out as needed to accommodate expansion.

The five-story building will contain about 175,000 square feet of space. About 70 to 75 percent of its $100 million price tag will go toward construction, and the remainder will pay for the state-of-the-art medical equipment it will contain.

The building will house offices for doctors specializing in various areas of oncology, as well as for surgeons; a survivorship program for those who have completed treatment; a resource library; a boutique and private salon with a wig shop; chemo, radiation, mammography and other imaging services; and an area devoted to palliative care.

One of the unusual features of the building will be a four-story, indoor garden that patients and family members can see and take comfort in no matter what services they are using in the building.

“It’s about life,” James said.

Construction began last February, “in the coldest month of the year,” said Eric Westergerdes, project manager for Weigand Construction, the general contractor.

Weigand also partnered with Chicago-based Pepper Construction as the general contractor a few years ago when Parkview North Hospital got a half-billion dollar expansion to become a regional medical center.

Steel for the building was delivered in June, and the work has proceeded quickly with no weather-related or other delays, Westergerdes said.

A topping-out ceremony is already on the calendar for Oct. 5.

Because it is a medical facility, the cancer institute presents particular construction challenges. For example, Westergerdes said, there are lead-lined floors and walls in areas where radiation will be used; and the MRI area requires special copper shielding.

The look of the building and the design of certain areas will be modeled after the existing hospital. Clean-up crews at the main facility were even consulted about the design of items such as sinks and faucets, where the highest standards of cleanliness must be maintained.

Three-dimensional models of the project and its infrastructure have been used to coordinate the build.

“A lot of time was put in to the plan upfront,” Westergerdes said.

About 90 construction workers are currently employed at the site; Westergerdes expects that number to peak later at 200 to 225.

Construction will continue through the coming winter, which will require heat and tenting to keep moisture from freezing on the floors and allow masonry work to continue when outside temperatures drop below 32 degrees.

The building will be under roof by May of next year, and construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of March in 2018. The facility is expected to open in the second quarter of 2018.

While most of the services to be offered at the new institute will be moved in from the main hospital complex, Parkview is recruiting additional physicians to work there, James said.

It also should allow for the expansion of research and investigative medicine, including clinical trials, in conjunction with the nearby Mirro Center.

The move also will free up space at the medical center to reorganize some of the doctors’ offices and services there, James said.