Franciscan breaks ground on new cancer center

 Participating in a groundbreaking and blessing ceremony for a new, comprehensive cancer center at Franciscan Health Munster are, from left, Alan Auerbach, MD; Tracey Franovich, vice president of clinical operations; Rowland Mbaoma, MD; Sister Aline Shultz, chief operating officer; Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairwoman of the Franciscan Alliance Board of Trustees; Kevin Leahy, Franciscan Alliance president and chief executive officer; and Jon Gilmore, president and chief executive officer of Tonn and Blank Construction.


MUNSTER — A groundbreaking and blessing ceremony took place April 8 for a planned 83,500-square-foot, $46 million Franciscan Health Munster comprehensive cancer center and medical office building that will be unique in the area, said Sister Aline Shultz, hospital chief operating officer.

“We could not be more excited, as this project further symbolizes the continuing growth and commitment Franciscan Alliance is making to this area,” she said during a speech at the ceremony that was attended by nearly 100 hospital officials, staff members and local area dignitaries.

“There isn’t another comprehensive cancer treatment center in Northwest Indiana that will have the capabilities under one roof that this will have,” she added.

Other speakers included Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairwoman of the Franciscan Alliance Board of Trustees; and Tracey Franovich, hospital vice president of clinical operations.

The Rev. Francis Tebbe, hospital director of mission and spiritual care services, led the attendees in prayers and later blessed the ground on which the center will be built.

The three-story addition, which will be attached to the hospital building at 701 Superior Ave. and connect to the outpatient service area, will include:

• Radiation oncology treatment, with two linear accelerators for radiation therapy.

• Medical oncology-infusion therapy; with a 15-chair infusion center for chemotherapy.

• Four, state-of-art endoscopy suites.

• Oncology laboratory services.

• A breast center that will offer a complete line of services, among them breast cancer screenings and diagnostics, and bone density testing.

• A pharmacy.

• A waiting area, with a capacity for 50 persons.

• Physician suites.

• A retail center.

The project, which is expected to be completed in 2018, comes on the heels of completion of a nearly two-year, $70 million construction effort that included a new, 24-hour Emergency Department, 24 patient rooms, a gift shop, a chapel and a cafeteria-dining room. That project added 80,000 square feet of space and 40,000 square feet of upgrades to the hospital.

Concerning the cancer treatment center, Sister Aline said, “A lot of people go to Chicago for the kinds of services we are going to offer. We hope to keep them in Northwest Indiana. We will be offering university-scale cancer treatment here.”

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