Allegheny Health Network to open $80M cancer center on Pittsburgh's North Side
Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network unveiled plans Wednesday for the $80 million AHN Cancer Institute Academic Center at Allegheny General Hospital, the first major construction project to take place at the iconic North Shore medical center in more than two decades.
“It represents a bold step for us,” said Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, president of AGH.
The 90,000-square-foot building, to be built at East North Street between the hospital's South Tower and the Sandusky Street parking garage, will serve as the academic specialty base of AHN. It is expected to open in late 2019.
The project is also the cornerstone of the $225 million commitment Highmark and AHN made to building regional cancer centers. The health care provider is collaborating with Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore on cancer treatments. This includes 600 active clinical trials between the two organizations.
Ground was broken last month on the AHN cancer center in Monroeville, which will serve as a satellite to AHN Cancer Institute Academic Center. Other cancer centers will be built in Beaver, Erie and Butler counties at locations to be determined, AHN said. More than 200 additional oncology professionals will be recruited during the next two years to staff the new cancer centers.
AHN already employs more than 200 cancer physicians and 500 oncology professionals.
“We call this getting health care right,” said David Holmberg, president of Highmark Health. “Our significant investment in the AHN Cancer Institute will not only greatly enhance our patients' and members' access to care, but also transform it through the extraordinary work of our caregivers and the advanced capabilities of the facilities we are developing.”
The building will have two stories above ground and two below. The South Tower's atrium will also be preserved.
The Academic Center will have a Gamma Pod system, a technology that eradicates breast tumors with high precision radiation, possibly eliminating the need for surgery on early-stage tumors, according to AHN. In addition, the facility will be home to MRI-linear accelerator capability, which combines an MRI scanner and linear accelerator in a single system. This allows doctors to precisely locate tumors and tailor X-rays and radiation doses with higher accuracy.
The facility will also have 49 chemotherapy infusion bays; conference and examination rooms with telemedicine capabilities, a positive image salon, nutritional counseling, and financial counseling.
“This is transforming the city,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who attended Wednesday's announcement.
According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 1.7 million new cancer cases this year, including 81,000 in Pennsylvania. Eighty percent of the people diagnosed with cancer in Pennsylvania will live outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
“With this new facility at AGH, we are establishing the academic core of a cancer care model that allows the vast majority of patients to be treated at the highest level in their communities,” said Dr. David Parda, chair of the AHN Cancer Institute.
“Our facility will be designed to help patients and their families be comfortable, informed and empowered in the face of cancer so they can maximize their health and well-being and achieve the best possible outcomes.”