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New Cancer Institute with specialty centers and ‘communal feeling’ dedicated in Md.

TOWSON, MD (The Catholic Review) - Bill Fusting’s colon cancer treatments at St. Joseph Medical Center have seemed a lot different since his first visits to the Towson hospital last August.

“When you walked into the old center, you saw these green painted hospital walls,” remembered Mr. Fusting, a parishioner of St. Pius X, Rodgers Forge. “All the patients lined up in beds along the wall — mostly with privacy curtains. There was no communal sense.”

The “depressing atmosphere” made him feel sicker than he was, Mr. Fusting recalled.

With the December opening of The Cancer Institute, a $7 million facility that houses all St. Joseph cancer services under one roof, everything has changed.

“Now, everything is open and airy,” said Mr. Fusting, standing in the center’s sun-bathed two-story glass atrium that contains the infusion center and a garden. “The chairs are very comfortable and you can talk to your neighbor if you want. There’s a great sense of a communal feeling.”

Mr. Fusting was particularly impressed with the infusion chairs, where he received chemotherapy in cushioned comfort. They are even equipped with DVD players, he said.

An interfaith dedication

In an April 13 ceremony, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien blessed the new Cancer Institute along with a San Damiano Cross, a representative of the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia who founded the hospital. He was joined by Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg of Beth Tfiloh Congregation in Baltimore, who blessed a mezuzah, a small parchment scroll inscribed with Hebrew Scriptures. The mezuzah will hang on a doorpost at the center as a faith reminder to all who enter.

“The more we can show patients respect and dignity and the love they deserve, the more we’re fulfilling the purpose for our creation and for our humanity,” said Archbishop O’Brien, noting that cancer has affected close members of his family.

“We all know we are going to face (cancer) in one way or another, and this center is a big step forward,” he said.

Dr. Mark Krasna, medical director of The Cancer Institute, said stories like Mr. Fusting’s are common. Patients universally approve of the new facility, which was designed with them in mind, he said.

“We want the patient to be able to meet all their physicians in one place at one time to get all their care from the time they are diagnosed and through their treatment,” said Dr. Krasna.

In the past, patients would have to travel across the medical campus and throughout the region to meet appointments, undergo testing and receive treatment over the course of many weeks or months, he said.

‘Unique model’

Dr. Krasna called the Cancer Institute a “unique model” on the East Coast that is already being replicated by other Catholic hospitals.

The Cancer Institute features eight specialty centers: The Breast Center, The Colorectal Oncology Center, The Gynecologic Oncology Center, The Hodes Comprehensive Liver and Pancreas Center, The Medical Oncology Center, The Radiation Oncology Center, The Thoracic Oncology Center and the Urologic Oncology Center.

Designed by Cochran, Stephenson and Donkervoet of Baltimore, the 60,000-square-foot building is part of a $100 million St. Joseph expansion.

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Republished by Catholic Online with permission of The Catholic Review, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Md. (www.catholicreview.org).

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