Cancer center on schedule

Published 9:00 pm Friday, January 29, 2016

Bon Secours Harbour View Medical Plaza, which will house its cancer treatment facility in North Suffolk, is on target to open next September.

Bon Secours Harbour View Medical Plaza, which will house its cancer treatment facility in North Suffolk, is on target to open next September.

Construction of Bon Secours Health Center’s $20 million, 58,000-square-foot cancer treatment center is roughly 20 percent complete, according to the builder.

Most of the work done so far on the two-story Bon Secours Harbour View Medical Plaza   has included flooring, foundation and installing utilities underground, said Danny Flynn, site superintendent for William M. Jordan Construction Co. Two radiation therapy vaults — rooms with 3-foot-thick walls where the cancer-fighting radiation therapy will take place — are emerging on the Harbour View skyline now, said Tim O’Brien, administrative director of ambulatory services at Bon Secours Hampton Roads.

The facility, located on 13 acres adjacent to Bon Secours’ existing Harbour View campus, is on track to open in September, O’Brien said.

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“We will have everything on this campus but hospital beds,” said Lynne Zultanky, a spokeswoman for Bon Secours.

The first floor of the cancer institute will house a radiation therapy center that includes a linear accelerator, high dose radiation therapy, a chemotherapy infusion center and space for nurse navigators and support and counseling services. The second floor will be available for physician practices to lease.

Bon Secours expects the cancer treatment center to deliver more than 8,000 radiation treatments annually, according to a press release.

Currently, radiation and chemotherapy services are being handled at Bon Secours Maryview in Portsmouth, Zultanky said.

“This is putting everything in one location,” said Zultanky. “We want to make this a health care destination for cancer patients by putting all the services on one campus.”

Part of the goal with that initiative is to make preventive care, including early detection screenings, more readily available for patients, she said.

That is crucial for Suffolk and surrounding communities, where some cancer rates are higher than neighboring cities in Hampton Roads, Zultanky said.

A 2014 Virginia Department of Health study showed that cancer deaths are 20 percent higher in western Hampton Roads than other parts of the state.

According to that study, Western Tidewater — which comprises Suffolk, Franklin and Isle of Wight in the study — ranked 17th of 35 health districts for cancer incidence and 30th of 35 for cancer-related deaths from 2007 to 2011. Neighboring Portsmouth ranked 29th in incidence and 35th for mortality in the same study.

“That is a clear indicator we are not catching cancer in its earliest, most curable stages,” Zultanky said. “In Hampton Roads, some cancer rates vary dramatically by city, by ZIP codes in some cases.”

The reasons often have to do with affluence, education, access to health insurance and lack of early screening detections, she said.