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Yuma Regional Medical Center announces site for new cancer center
Yuma Regional Medical Center announced Tuesday that the comprehensive new cancer center it plans to develop will be located on the southwest corner of the property owned by Yuma Elks north of 24th Street between Elks Lane and Ridgeview Drive.
Of all the potential sites YRMC looked at in the past year, it was the favored location because it is right across the street from the hospital's main campus, noted Pat Walz, YRMC president and chief executive officer.
The site will be available through a property exchange with the Yuma Elks. Earlier this year, YRMC purchased the former NCO building at 1801 W. 32nd St. that has been vacant since the call center closed its doors in May 2010. That building will be transferred to the Elks along with a cash settlement in exchange for the Elks property.
Since the new cancer center will be built on a different area of the property than the lodge, construction of it can move forward while the Elks remain in their current facility for up to three years. Eventually, the organization will relocate its lodge to a portion of the NCO building, leasing the remaining space to YMCA.
“The Yuma community is known for its ability to partner,” Walz said. “This project and the collective efforts to make it a reality serve as another example of the greater good that comes from that effort. Both the Elks and the YMCA have been devoted to finding a collective good for our community.”
Walz continued: “YRMC has a dream — to provide local cancer patients with the highest level of care without having to leave the community, unless absolutely necessary. The Elks and the YMCA have been an important part in making that dream a reality. We are grateful for their dedication.”
Walz said the agreement will benefit all three organizations. The site's close proximity to the hospital to be handy for the hospital's patients and their families. And the NCO building will provide room for both the Elks and YRMC to grow their memberships and programs.
With the center now in the design phase, Walz said he anticipates groundbreaking by spring and the facility be ready to open by March 2014.
The new 38,000-square-foot cancer center will enable YRMC to consolidate its cancer programs under one roof, including medical oncology services, radiation therapy, infusion therapy and ancillary and community services such as massage, acupuncture, wig room and support group meetings for a holistic approach to cancer treatment.
“There is a big unmet need in the community for a comprehensive cancer program,” Walz said.
There were 750 cancer cases in Yuma in 2011, YRMC officials reported. An estimated 200 patients sought treatment outside the community. The three main types of cancers in Yuma are prostate, breast and lung cancer.
As YRMC works toward building the new cancer center, it also has been setting the stage for advancing treatment as well. Currently, two doctors who have committed to practicing in Yuma are participating in oncology fellowships at the University of Arizona and another doctor will start an oncology fellowship next summer at Mayo Clinic.
And recently, YRMC announced that it has become a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, making cutting-edge technology and expertise available to Yuma patients without having to travel.
“I, and the entire board of the Yuma YMCA, extend our sincerest gratitude to Pat Walz, the YRMC Cancer Center Board and Elks Lodge for allowing us the opportunity to be part of this project,” said Chris Wheeler, executive director of the Yuma Family YMCA. “The building of the cancer center is a great step forward in improving the lives and health of the Yuma community, and we at the Y are looking forward to supporting the endeavors of the hospital now and in the years to come.”
Stewart Johnson, chairman of the Yuma Elks board of trustees, agreed that the agreement will be good for the three entities as well as the entire community. “We are proud to be a part of this monumental shift in health-care for the community.”
He noted that the vacant lot that will become the new cancer center is where Boy Scouts have put up dozens of American flags on patriotic days. Elks will work with the Scouts to find a new site for the flag display, he pledged.