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A ribbon cutting and open house was held last week at Parkland Health Center in recognition of the upcoming grand opening of the hospital’s new cancer center.

The center is in the final stages of moving from its previous location at Parkland Health Center-Bonne Terre to a state-of-the-art, 6,500 square-foot treatment facility located on the fourth floor of the medical office building on Parkland’s Farmington campus.

Since 1995, Parkland Cancer Center has partnered with Missouri Baptist Medical Center, with four oncologists from Missouri Baptist seeing patients in Bonne Terre. A fifth oncologist, Dr. Melissa Rooney, joined the cancer center staff in June of last year.

In addition to its five oncologists, the cancer center team also includes local oncology and infusion-certified nurses, as well as a pharmacist, chaplain and social worker. The team offers the same medical oncology, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and clinical trials that are provided at Missouri Baptist.

Prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony, Parkland Health Center President Tom Karl was greeting the local dignitaries, community members, BJC representatives and medical staff as they entered the cancer center.

“It’s a very happy day and a day of relief because this has been a long time coming,” he said. “There’s been a whole lot of people who have worked on this project locally and at BJC. There’s been a whole lot of planning. It’s a highly technical area because we’re taking care of very sick people, so it’s amazing all the complexities that go into something like this. To see that team working together to come up with results like this feels really good."

Emceeing the opening day activities was Chris Westrich, Parkland Health Center’s vice president of operations.

“We’re so very excited,” she said. “The official opening day will be Monday, July 29, but we’re excited that we could have our community members come out to celebrate the soon-to-be-open cancer center. There is nothing wrong with the current cancer center in Bonne Terre, but this allows for a little more space. There’s an additional 2,700-square-feet, so total space, you’re looking at 6,500-square-feet and it was specifically designed with our patients in mind."

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Westrich explained that, while oncology services were previously located on the first floor of Parkland’s Bonne Terre facility and infusion therapy and physician clinics located on the second floor, the new cancer center allows oncology, infusion therapy and the physician clinics to be housed together.

Cutting the ribbon at the noonday ceremony was Cathy Payne, who works in the Patient Access Department of PHC’s Financial Resource Office. There was a special reason why she was chosen to take part in the grand opening.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2015 and I did all my treatments and follow-ups at the Bonne Terre location,” she said. “I still see Dr. Shafqat on a regular basis, so I’ll actually get to come here and use the new facility to continue that.

“Those ladies at Bonne Terre were my family for a year and I just think so highly of them. I recommend them all the time. This new facility is just beautiful. I think people will have a very cheery, very pleasant experience when they come here. I’m very excited.”

Parkland Health Center will continue to operate its 24/7 fully staffed emergency department, inpatient services and sleep disorder center at the Bonne Terre location. Options to fill the space vacated by the cancer center move are being explored and when plans are finalized, announcements will be made.

Parkland Cancer Center provides diagnostics and primary cancer treatment including medical oncology, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, access to clinical trials, genetic testing and radiation oncology referrals as well as continuous follow-up, consultations and second opinions for cancer and blood disorder management. For additional information about Parkland Cancer Center, please visit parklandhealthcenter.org/cancercenter or call 573-358-4671.

Parkland Health Center is part of BJC HealthCare, which also includes St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the teaching hospitals for Washington University School of Medicine. For additional information about Parkland Health Center, please call 573-756-6451 or the physician finder service at 573-431-3338 or visit parklandhealthcenter.org.

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Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or kjenkins@farmingtonpressonline.com

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