Construction starts on Montgomery’s first free-standing cancer center -- Gazette.Net


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Adventist HealthCare this week began building a $27 million cancer center in Rockville that officials say will be Montgomery County’s first free-standing, comprehensive outpatient facility.

The 50,000-square-foot center, scheduled to open in about a year at the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital campus in the Interstate 270 life sciences corridor, is bringing together independent specialists such as medical and radiation oncologists, as well as counselors, dietitians and researchers.

The facility, to be called the Aquilino Cancer Center, was fueled by a large donation from Michael Aquilino, whose wife, Tammie, died of cancer in 2004. She was a patient at Shady Grove, and Michael Aquilino asked the gift’s size not be disclosed, said Jane Peck, executive director of cancer care services for Adventist HealthCare.

“I truly believe upper Montgomery County deserves and needs a convenient, high-caliber cancer center like the one that is being built, with all the critical services in one place and top medical researchers in close proximity,” Aquilino said in a statement.

Adventist HealthCare now offers inpatient and outpatient cancer treatment services at the 339-bed Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and the 281-bed Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park.

Although some existing staff will work at the new center, Adventist will hire more employees incrementally as needed, Peck said. In addition, the independent specialists, researchers and others will move staff there, she said.

“These private providers are coming together to collaborate on the care of their patients,” Peck said. “Instead of patients having to drive to other buildings that are sometimes in other cities and counties, and struggle with traffic, all of the services they need will be housed under one roof.”

Physicians also will be able to closely collaborate with researchers, and patients will be given the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. The center will have its own chapel, retail shop and patient living room.

The center will be part of Adventist HealthCare, but not attached to the Shady Grove hospital.

Holy Cross Hospital operates an attached cancer institute that cares for more than 1,000 inpatients annually, according to the Silver Spring hospital. Inpatient and outpatient cases at Shady Grove Adventist and Washington Adventist hospitals combined are more than 1,400 a year.

Adventist’s cancer center is scheduled to be completed about a year before Holy Cross’ 93-bed, 237,200-square-foot hospital is slated to open in Germantown. Adventist had a competing proposal for a new hospital in Clarksburg.

The Maryland Health Care Commission last week reissued a certificate of need for the Germantown facility. In February, a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge overturned the commission’s initial approval last year of the proposal because of a technical error.

Adventist opened a 17,000-square-foot emergency care facility in Germantown in 2006.

kshay@gazette.net