The newly completed Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers, a state-of-the-art facility equipped with the latest technology and designed to put patients at ease while undergoing procedures traditionally done in an inpatient setting, welcomed its first visitors today at the UPMC CancerCenter’s Hillman Cancer Center.
Leaders from UPMC CancerCenter and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) joined Pittsburgh Penguins owner and cancer survivor Mario Lemieux today for a dedication of the 24,000-square-foot center. The Mario Lemieux Foundation, founded by Mario and his wife Nathalie, donated $3.5 million for the creation of the center, which capped off a five-year, $100 million capital campaign at UPMC CancerCenter and UPCI that was launched in 2005 by The Hillman Foundation and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation and with support from UPMC. Construction on the center began last year. <,p>The center, serving an estimated 25,000 patients a year, will offer comprehensive diagnostic services, individually designed treatment plans and long-term follow-up services to patients with leukemia, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and other blood malignancies. Patients who normally have to travel to different offices to visit various clinicians and undergo testing will instead be able to see their entire care team in one place. The center will enable more patients to take advantage of clinical trials and be a hub for research.
“This is a tremendous addition to the UPMC CancerCenter network and to our patients who are being treated for blood diseases,” said Nancy E. Davidson, M.D., director of UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter. “Our focus is to improve the patient experience through the center’s design and to bring the latest technology and research from the lab to the bedside so we can ensure we are providing the best care possible.”
Located on the fourth floor of the Shadyside facility, the new center has a lounge-like feel, with calming, earth-tone colors, large glass windows that allow for an abundance of natural light, and illuminated, stone-like tile at the nursing stations designed to help patients navigate the area easily.
Visual installations equipped with sound are hung throughout the space and show scenes from nature, such as water lapping up against a beach’s shoreline. Patients and their families also have access to an existing terrace, which was modernized with benches, sun shades and an all-season putting green.
“Because of my own experience with Hodgkin’s disease, I know first-hand what many of these patients are going through and how important it is to feel comfortable and relaxed when there is so much uncertainty and worry. It means a great deal to me and my family that my foundation is able to be a part of something that affects patient care in such a positive way,” Mr. Lemieux said.
On the clinic side, the space is organized into pods with exam rooms, physician conference areas and restrooms so that patients have everything they need in one place. On a separate treatment side, patients can relax in individual bays separated by movable glass panels and can control the lights and curtains. Infusion chairs, where patients receive chemotherapy, are equipped with touchscreen computers equipped with technology from the GetWellNetwork that gives them access to medical information, the Internet and other entertainment options.
“This center puts patients first in every way and goes beyond clinical care,” said Stanley Marks, M.D., chairman, director of clinical services and chief medical officer for UPMC CancerCenter. “To help patients and families prepare for and manage treatment, recovery and life after blood cancer, the Lemieux Center offers a full range of supportive care services. Our team of highly trained nurses and specialists can help best meet patients’ specific needs.”