Baptist Health South Florida to build comprehensive cancer center
By Patricia Hoyos
Baptist Health South Florida is in the initial planning and developmental stage of creating its own world-class comprehensive cancer center that hospital officials hope will be ready to open in three years.
"Our world needs a world-class comprehensive cancer center," said Ana Lopez-Blazquez, chief strategic officer for Baptist Health South Florida. "We are in the process of trying to define what that really means."
To be world class, she said, the center would need to offer a wide variety of services and treatments, have cancer specialists as well as serve as a research facility.
"It's a matter of trying to consolidate a lot of the services that are offered in different [Baptist] hospitals," she added.
Right now, she said, groups of physicians are helping come up with a framework of what clinical services the center would need to offer and what scope of growth would be.
According to Ms. Lopez-Blazquez, Baptist has been planning a comprehensive cancer center for at least12 years but it keeps being put in the back burner to give way to other projects like the new West Kendall Baptist Hospital, which opened in April.
Although it's still too early to determine what such a project would cost, Ms. Lopez-Blazquez said that, according to preliminary estimates, the initial investment for the center would amount to at least $100 million.
"This is going to be a significant investment," she said. "It will be large enough to consolidate all cancer services."
The center will probably have several phases, she said, including a main clinical services phase and another for research.
There's still no set location for the center. But the facility will be "fairly large' so Baptist is evaluating whether it would make sense to locate it in one of its hospital campuses or if it should be a separate facility, Ms. Lopez-Blazquez said.
Ideally, the center would open in three years, she said, but it's still too early to assure that is a feasible goal.
Despite Jackson Memorial Hospital already having the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ms. Lopez-Blazquez said Baptist's board of trustees and physicians believe there's a need in Miami for another center. She said that within all the feedback the hospital gets, a cancer center is one of the common things people ask about.
"One of the things that we see," she said, "is that a tremendous number of people in our community leave Miami to get cancer care."
With a new comprehensive cancer center, Baptist officials hope to also attract international patients who already often visit Baptist for their health care needs.
Ms. Lopez-Blazquez said, "We are reacting to the needs of our community and our extended community."
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