Wednesday, November 2, 2016 12:00 AM

Construction to start on 100,000-square-foot regional cancer center

This week Community Medical Centers Board of Trustees approved funding for a $68 million, 100,000-square-foot regional cancer treatment and research center — the first of its kind in the San Joaquin Valley.

A rendering of Community’s planned regional cancer center shows where it would sit at the north end of the Clovis Community Medical Center campus. This view is looking directly south with the L-shaped cancer center in the foreground.
Construction starts early next year on the three-story center to be located on the Clovis Community campus, adjacent to Highway 168. The center is planned to open as early as summer 2018. Cancer care and expertise currently provided in multiple locations, including Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno, the California Cancer Center in north Fresno and Clovis Community Medical Center, will be consolidated here to provide a seamless experience for patients.
“This project will house the latest in cancer treatments, research and clinical trials. Central California deserves to have this non-for-profit cancer center completed as quickly as possible to serve all the patients and families in our region,” said Tim Joslin, president & CEO, Community Medical Centers. “In my decade at Community, this is perhaps the single most important project I’ve had the privilege to plan. And it will serve Valley families for decades to come.”
In approving funding Community’s board also approved design plans that include space for up to four linear accelerators for radiation treatment, the latest in digital imaging, CT and MRI scanners, and the newest version of CyberKnife, a laser surgical system used to treat hard-to-reach tumors.
“Our board was extremely excited and supportive about bringing all of our cancer services and the newest technology under one roof,” said Paul Ortiz, vice president of Community’s cancer services. “I’m excited to be developing a comprehensive outpatient cancer center that will be a one-stop-shop for our patients. It will enhance how we care for patients, help us better coordinate care between different physicians and, at the end of the day, improve outcomes.”
Ortiz noted that the need for outpatient chemotherapy, cancer surgeries and radiation treatments in the Valley is expected to increase by 29% and 16% respectively within the next decade, and the American Cancer Society predicts 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will get cancer in their lifetime.  Statistics like these make it imperative that the Valley have a center that increases access here to expertise, technology, research and support services so that families do not feel the need to travel elsewhere for treatment, said Ortiz.
 “The goal is to build a world-class cancer treatment facility to keep patients closer to their homes and their families’ support,” agreed Christopher Perkins, M.D., board-certified medical oncologist.

Community’s planned regional cancer center will be 100,000 square feet, three stories tall and house the latest imaging and radiation treatment technology, chemotherapy, pharmacy, lab and support services for cancer patients.
The vision for the cancer center is to bring comprehensive outpatient services under one roof including imaging, radiation and chemotherapy and to facilitate a multidisciplinary team of physicians and support staff to provide one place for patients to come for their clinic visits, lab work, medications, and support services, which currently require visiting different providers in different locations.
“Consolidating outpatient cancer services under one roof is going to go a long way in providing faster and more convenient care for our patients while allowing physicians to collaborate more efficiently,  ultimately elevating the level of cancer care in the Valley,” said Dr. Uma Swamy, radiation oncologist at Community’s California Cancer Center.
Besides bringing a multidisciplinary team approach to fighting cancer, the center would continue to enhance its clinical trials program in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco’s medical staff to bring the latest cooperative and industry sponsored clinical trials to the Valley. The ultimate goal would be to become a “Designated Cancer Center” by the National Cancer Institute, said Ortiz.  Ten such centers exist in California, but none in the San Joaquin Valley.
“We expect this to be a recognized best-practice location – elevating cancer treatment, research and ultimately positive patient outcomes for Valley families,” said Michael Peterson, M.D., associate dean and chief of medicine of the UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program.
Reported by Erin Kennedy. Reach her at