Ground was broken Wednesday to begin construction of the new N.C. Cancer Hospital, which will be built in front of the existing UNC Hospitals complex.
“Today marks the proud beginning of a new commitment in a fight for the health of our loved ones and fellow citizens who face the reality of cancer every day,” said Dr. William L. Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine, CEO of the UNC Health Care System and vice chancellor for medical affairs. “Starting today, we will be able to see the progress being made to bring North Carolinians the greatest cancer treatment facility in the nation.”
The keynote speaker for the groundbreaking ceremony was Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, director of the National Cancer Institute. “As you pour this foundation,” said von Eschenbach, “from my perspective, I see you creating new hope.”
“I see you being the source of an opportunity, by bringing together the greatness of the Lineberger Cancer Center and its research and all the effort that has been done that has truly made it one of this nation’s most outstanding comprehensive cancer centers, and then combining that with a state-of-the-art clinical facility, that you will contribute and you will be a critically important part of the quest, the goal that we have set for the nation, to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer for everyone,” he said.
President Bush recently announced that he intends to designate von Eschenbach to be acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Richard Goldberg, chief of Hematology/Oncology at UNC Health Care and associate director for clinical research at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, will serve as medical director of the N.C. Cancer Hospital. “It’s going to be something that all North Carolinians can be proud of. Unfortunately, many North Carolinians will also need to avail themselves of our services at some point in their life.”
The N.C. Cancer Hospital, tentatively scheduled to open in late 2009, will provide complete cancer care and research facilities in one facility. “Everything a cancer patient needs, with the exception of an operating room, will be under one roof,” said Goldberg. “The new building will allow us to bring resources to the patient instead of having to take the patient to the resources.”
Conferencing facilities in the N.C. Cancer Hospital also will allow UNC’s doctors to communicate their clinical and research findings across the state, nation and world in a minute’s time.
“We envision the Cancer Hospital becoming a hub that reaches out to doctors across the state,” said Dr. Shelton Earp ’72, director of Lineberger. “This building will enhance our ability to move fundamental research directly into patient applications.”
A variety of patient applications will be present in the new facility, including more experimental treatment options, including a developmental therapies unit.
The need for a facility like the N.C. Cancer Hospital is becoming increasingly urgent, Earp said. “Cancer as a diagnosis is increasing as our population ages,” he said. “We’re almost in a race against time as patient population and desire to visit increases. This building will help us catch up.”
With 320,000 square feet of space and seven floors dedicated entirely to cancer services, Goldberg sees the hospital being a boon not just to North Carolina but the East Coast as a whole. Also accompanying the $180 million Cancer Hospital, which will sit in front of the N.C. Neurosciences Hospital, will be a physicians’ office building across Manning Drive.