This summer, Allegheny Health Network celebrated a significant construction milestone for its new AHN Cancer Institute Academic Center at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH). On July 11, 2019, AHN – along with community leaders, cancer patients and colleagues from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center – signed and raised the final steel beam of the $80 million facility.
The 90,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Academic Cancer Center at AHN will open in the spring of 2020 and is part of a $300 million commitment by Highmark and AHN to greatly enhance and expand the leading cancer treatment capabilities of AHN across the western Pennsylvania region. It will connect AHN Cancer Institute’s high-quality, comprehensive community locations with an Academic Center at AGH that will serve as the nucleus of cancer care innovation, research, clinical trials and medical education This year, AHN Cancer Institute has already opened new oncology facilities in Monroeville, Butler County and Beaver County, with additional centers set to open later this year in Erie and Hempfield, Westmoreland County.
“At the AHN Cancer Institute, we are committed to helping patients and their families fight and win their cancer battle on every front, from patient-friendly facilities such as the AGH Academic Cancer Center and our community cancer centers, to our investments in leading- edge cancer treatments and technologies, to our collaborations with the best minds in cancer care,” said David Parda, MD, Chair, AHN Cancer Institute.
“Our significant investment in the cancer fighting capabilities and infrastructure of AHN over the past couple of years, together with the exceptional skills and dedication of our caregiving team, should reassure cancer patients and the community as a whole about the exceptional choice AHN represents for those who are diagnosed with this disease,” said Cindy Hundorfean, AHN President and CEO. “We are excited to celebrate the progress we have made with the construction of our Cancer Institute’s Academic Center and cannot wait to open its doors next year.”
As the U.S. population continues to grow older and more diverse, the number of cancer diagnoses is rising. About 1.7 million new cancer cases – 80,000 in Pennsylvania alone are expected to be diagnosed in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society. In addition, there are nearly 17 million cancer survivors in the United States today, with that number expected to rise to nearly 22 million by 2029, according to the National Cancer Institute.
“At the AHN Cancer Institute, we are committed to helping patients and their families fight and win their cancer battle on every front, from patient-friendly facilities such as the AGH Academic Cancer Center and our community cancer centers, to our investments in leading- edge cancer treatments and technologies, to our collaborations with the best minds in cancer care,” said David Parda, MD, Chair, AHN Cancer Institute. “With this new facility at AGH, we are enhancing the academic core of a cancer care model that now allows the vast majority of patients to be treated at the highest level in their own communities”
Innovative treatments already available to AHN cancer patients, and which will be based at the new AGH Academic Cancer Center, include Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy for pancreatic cancer and Gamma Knife, an alternative to traditional brain surgery and whole brain radiation therapy for the treatment of complex brain conditions. AHN will also be one of the few facilities in the country testing a breakthrough technology that simultaneously generates magnetic resonance images (MRI) and delivers radiation beams. The MR-linac will allow doctors to view tumor tissue more clearly and adapt the radiation dose while a patient is being treated.
The center will also offer an innovative device called Gamma Pod, the first radiation therapy system dedicated specifically to treat early- stage breast cancer. The technology, expected to be installed at AGH later this year, delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumor while minimizing radiation exposure to vital organs and healthy breast tissue.
The Academic Center will be a four-story structure, with two floors below ground and two above, located on East North Avenue and situated between the hospital’s South Tower and Sandusky Street parking garage.
Like the new community cancer centers being developed by AHN, the network’s patient- centered philosophy is also reflected in the design and aesthetics of the Academic Center. The facility will feature comfortable waiting areas, exam rooms and treatment areas that maximize privacy, abundant natural light and soft colors. Valet parking will be provided and patients will be greeted by navigators who will help manage their visit and expedite their care.