Cancer patients in Montgomery County have a new option come Thursday, as Adventist HealthCare opens its Aquilino Cancer Center in Rockville.
The 50,000-square-foot center on the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital campus is the county’s first free-standing, comprehensive outpatient facility, according to Adventist officials. Patients will have access to an array of independent specialists, such as medical and radiation oncologists, plus counselors and dieticians. Physicians also will be able to closely collaborate with researchers, and patients will be given the opportunity to participate in clinical trials.
A navigation team comprising nurses, social workers and dieticians will work with patients’ specific needs and lead them through every step of the treatment and recovery process, officials said.
While the radiation oncology department and the cancer care navigation team began seeing patients at the building on Sept. 23, the rest of the departments will start to provide care in the coming weeks. Thursday will mark the center’s opening, with an informational program, self-guided tours, a building dedication and ribbon-cutting, and refreshments.
The center also will offer fitness activities such as yoga and meditation, cooking demonstrations and support groups for patients to transition into “survivorship” after their diagnosis.
“It’s not that you can’t get these services on other hospital campuses in the county, but you can’t get them all under one roof,” said Jane Peck, executive director for cancer services for Adventist HealthCare of Gaithersburg. “For a cancer patient that is compromised and weak, traveling is a big deal to them and being able to come to one location is important.”
State-of-the-art equipment is used throughout the center, including a high dose rate instrument that administers powerful dosages of radiation but can reduce the number of sessions a patient has to endure.
The building is certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. For example, a rooftop garden absorbs rainwater and reduces runoff.
“We focus on the health of our patients, but also the health of the community is important to us, too,” Peck said.
To make the space warm and inviting, a neutral color palette and serene art were incorporated into the decor. The building features large windows for natural light. Several of the radiation treatment rooms have illuminated nature scenes mounted in the ceiling for patients to look at while lying on their backs.
“We want it to feel like home,” said Don Bridges, a radiation oncologist at the center. “We want patients to be in a very comfortable environment and feel relaxed.”
Grace Lee, a two-year cancer survivor from Frederick and the infection control coordinator at the hospital, called the facility “phenomenal” and said it will make the process easier for patients.
“I look back when I had [cancer]. I didn’t have everything in one location, so this is wonderful,” Lee said. “It will help make what others are going through a lot easier.”