The largest single building project in the history of Sioux Falls is getting closer to completion still on schedule and on budget. The new Avera Cancer Institute on the Avera McKennan campus in Sioux Falls broke ground in May of 2008. We got a tour inside the newly enclosed building and a sneak peak of some of the state of the art equipment it will house.
From the outside, the 5 story 217,000 square foot building has definitely taken shape. Inside the soon to be the new Avera Cancer Institute 160 people working right now on the $90 million project are hammering away at the details.
The first floor will house an atrium filled with art, a coffee shop, cafe, yoga room and performance stage. The second floor will have the oncology clinic with 44 infusion suites for patients undergoing chemo that will overlook the atrium. The third floor will accommodate women's health, including a breast health center and a clinic for gynecological oncology plus 13 more infusion suites. The fourth floor will house an outpatient surgery center with 8 operating rooms. This floor is on target to open in July (2010).
Dick Molseed, Senior V.P. of Environmental Services for Avera McKennan says, "We are gong to have new technology that isn't available anywhere in the region. It's going to be one-stop for every aspect of cancer care with a wonderful outpatient surgical center that's brand new in an environment that unprecedented in the Midwest."
Half of the atrium will represent West River (the other half East River). A rock formation was built as a replica to the needles that you see in the Black Hills. From it will be a waterfall with private seating for people to meditate.
Molseed says, "This is a building no one wants to be in. If you are in this building you or a loved one has cancer. Or you or a loved one is having surgery. We wanted to make an inviting place available to them and the community. We want to make it a place for celebration when that's appropriate and a place to mourn when you need to do that."
There will be 3 radiation vaults at the new ACI. Currently, they have one. It's under 7 feet of concrete and a quarter million pounds of lead. Avera has also bought what's described as the newest generation in linear accelerators the Artiste. It's adaptable and upgradable. Two huge qualities for patient care.
Dr. Kirsten Erickson Radiation Oncologist with Medical X-Ray and the Avera Cancer Institute says, "So for example, a patient who has lung cancer doing normal breathing will often times have the tumor moving. Normally, there is no way to adjust to that, but with this new technology you can adjust during treatment and adjust to tumor movement. It makes it that more accurate."
When it's done later this year this will not be just a cancer institute, but a special place that honors patients, their loved ones and the dozens of people caring for them.
The surgical center is expected to be open around the 4th of July. The rest of the building should be ready around Thanksgiving time in late November.