August 24, 2009

UNM Cancer Center Opens Doors to New State-of-the-Art Comprehensive Cancer Treatment Facility


On August 31, 2009, after nearly a decade of planning and construction, the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, the official Cancer Center of New Mexico and the state’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center, will open the first phase of its new state of the art UNM Cancer Treatment and Clinical Research Facility, providing fully integrated comprehensive cancer diagnosis and treatment to the people of New Mexico and the nation. This new $90 million, 206,000 sq. ft. facility will provide a world class level of comprehensive cancer care unequaled in the Southwest, ushering in a new era of hope for all New Mexicans facing cancer. This new facility will serve as the hub in UNM’s Statewide Cancer Care Network, with links to outreach clinics and programs in Las Cruces, Santa Fe, and Farmington.

“The opening of our new Cancer Center is the result of the strong support of the people of Bernalillo County and the state of New Mexico and a sign of our continued commitment to provide the best possible care in the best facilities for all New Mexicans,” said Dr. Paul Roth, Executive Vice President for UNM Health Sciences Center and Dean of the UNM School of Medicine.

Until the opening of this new facility, more than 600 physicians, nurses and staff worked in increasingly tight quarters to keep up with a rapidly growing patient population. Last year, the UNM Cancer Center served more than 7,600 patients in over 90,000 patient visits, which represents half the adults and virtually all children diagnosed with cancer in the state. The new Center will provide ample space to serve more than 200,000 patients every year. This facility provides fully integrated cancer diagnosis and treatment services in a hopeful healing environment, including cancer diagnosis and imaging facilities, a Siemens-PETNET cyclotron and radioisotope production facility, three ambulatory surgery suites, a diagnostic clinical laboratory, four vaults for radiation oncology and radiosurgery programs, and more than 40 exam rooms per floor.

“This is an historic day for all of us at UNM Hospital,” said Steve McKernan, CEO, University of New Mexico Hospital. “Our new Cancer Center is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our doctors, nurses and staff who provide the care for the thousands of patients who we treat each year. On behalf of all our UNM Hospital family, I want to thank all those who made this day possible.”

Because the Center has been focused on caring for the whole patient, this new facility also features healing gardens, private alcoves, a reflective pool and a meditation chapel to provide an environment of hope and healing. Patient and Family Services Programs and an Integrative Cancer Medicine Center provide full patient supportive care services.

The design of the new building was heavily influenced by New Mexico’s diverse cultures. Because a strong connection to the Earth is central to Native American beliefs, wood, stone and other natural elements are visible throughout the facility. New Mexican plants believed to have healing properties inspired the color schemes, and a roof-to-ground light chimney floods each floor with sunlight. The beautiful chemotherapy infusion suite on the top floor, operated by UNM Hospital, offers patients a stunning view of the Sandia Mountains during their treatment, which can be done indoors or out in the fresh air of the rooftop garden.

“Our new state-of-the-art facility is a welcoming and gracious healing space where the whole patient, not just their cancer, can be attended to,” said Dr. Cheryl Willman, Director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center. “We’re incredibly anxious to provide this world-class facility to all New Mexicans, and we are thrilled to be opening our doors.”

The formal dedication of the new facility is planned for June 11-12, 2010 and will feature some of New Mexico’s most famous musicians, artists, and poets who will participate in a weekend of “Healing Through Arts and Medicine.”

The UNM Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of the State of New Mexico, and one of only 63 National Cancer Institute designated cancer centers in the nation. It is home to 85 board-certified oncology physicians representing every cancer specialty and more than 120 research scientists hailing from such prestigious institutions as M.D. Anderson, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic.

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