Yuma Regional Cancer Center – Big dreams Underway

2013-09-06 20:09:16

Dirt – large quantities of it – is being moved around with excavation now underway for the 40,000-square-foot Yuma Regional Cancer Center.

It’s a welcome sight to Pat Walz, chief executive officer of Yuma Regional Medical Center.

“Absolutely, I’m delighted to see work starting on the cancer center,” he said Friday as he visited the construction site on the north side of 24th Street across from the hospital.

As huge earth-moving equipment lumbered in the background, Walz met with Pat Walker of Merrill-Walker Builders and Jason Sanford, project superintendent for Okland Construction.

The two companies have been selected by YRMC to lead the build team for the new cancer center. Other key partners on the build-design team include Archsol and Dahl, Robins and Associates Inc.

“We are proud to partner with Okland and Merrill-Walker to build a state-of-the-art facility for our community,” Walz said. “Together these two contractors combine the nationally recognized expertise of Okland with the locally respected work of Merrill-Walker.”

Okland Construction is ranked as the 67th largest general contractor in the nation. Their experience includes Cancer Treatment Centers of America and many healthcare facilities across the nation. No stranger to Yuma, Okland built the Wellton Border Patrol facility and the Yuma Main Library.

Merrill-Walker, a well-established Yuma contractor, brings more than 70 years combined experience in commercial construction. Over the last several years, the Merrill-Walker team has completed several projects at YRMC to include the new Hybrid Operating Room in the Outpatient Surgery Department. Currently, the company is the general contractor for the hospital’s new support services building.

Sanford and Walker expressed pleasure at working together and being part of the project.

“I’m excited to get it going and get it out of the ground,” said Sanford.

“I’m happy to be a part of the new cancer center,” said Walker, noting that as many as local subcontractors as possible will be used on the job, given the complexity of the project.

Excavation began last week at the site. Construction is expected to take nine months with the new state-of-the-art facility projected to open in May 2014.

Asked about the large mound of dirt off to the side, Walker explained that the cancer center site is being “over excavated” so the dirt can be compacted when it is put back. He also explained that the three-story cancer center will be set on the hillside so the south side entrance will be at the basement level while the parking lot entrance on the north side will be on level one.

Today, almost 40 percent of cancer patients in Yuma have to leave the community for care, hospital officials say. When the cancer center is completed, it will have triple the space, expanded services and additional physicians, allowing cancer patients to remain in Yuma, close to family and friends, with the latest diagnostic and treatment capabilities available.

Comprehensive cancer services will be concentrated in one location, creating a more convenient, patient and family friendly environment, say YRMC officials. The center will include clinical research; expanded physician team; medical oncology; radiation oncology; group, semi-private and private infusion rooms; pharmacy; lab; cancer resource center; massage and other complementary therapies; and nurse navigators for emotional and logistical support.

In addition, as part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Yuma’s cancer center physicians have direct access to the latest Mayo Clinic expertise and clinical care resources.

Cost of construction for the cancer center is about $16 million, while capital outlays will be another approximately $20 million, Walz said. In addition, the hospital is sponsoring hematology-oncology fellowships for three physicians who have committed to work in Yuma for at least three years. They include Dr. Augustine Lau, a Yuma native, who will complete his fellowship in January at the University of Arizona; Dr. Ambuga Badari, who started a fellowship in 2011 at UA; and Dr. Brenda Ernst, who has just started a fellowship at Mayo Oncology in Scottsdale.