Karen Ballog was in her late 40s when she found her first cancerous lump.
The breast cancer led to a double mastectomy, but not before cancer spread to her bones. She’s become accustomed to driving all over town for her regular check-ups and treatments, but soon she’ll be able to get everything done in one place.
“I can’t — words can’t even say. It’s just awesome,” Ballog said after her tour Wednesday through the new Renzi Cancer Center at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center. “You can’t beat the convenience — everything is right here.”
The 10,825-square-foot facility includes private rooms for exams, patient meetings and procedures, an on-site pharmacy, 10 chemotherapy infusion chairs, lab phlebotomy stations and a state-of-the-art linear accelerator for targeted radiation treatment. The $10.6 million facility will be open to patients beginning Sept. 27.
“I can’t thank everyone enough, those who donated and helped the process along, because I’ll be spending half my days here soon,” Ballog said.
As the new center gets up and running, there could also be job opportunities for medical professionals, maintenance workers and additional staff, hospital officials said.
“This whole process has been such a journey,” said Eunice Joseph, nurse manager at the center. “This team is amazing — they are one of the things that brought me to this place — and every single person contributes to how much we accomplish in this place.”
Now, staff from the two previous locations — a facility on Commons Avenue and space in the hospital itself — will be in one place, so patients can receive radiation and chemotherapy treatments and see specialists all in one facility.
“In some ways, we wish we could put ourselves out of business — we wish we had all the answers, and that cancer services weren’t needed anymore,” said Dr. Philip Lowry, director of the cancer center.
“The hope is that something like this center catalyzes not just interest to come here for cancer care, but brings up the whole clinic another notch or two,” Lowry said.
Elderly patients and people with health conditions tend to want to live near their medical providers, Lowry said, and the expansion of the cancer center could play a role in economic development.
“You tend to find communities that have great medical care start to become more attractive when corporations are looking for a place to put a facility, or when students are deciding where to go to college or when people are choosing where to live when they retire,” Lowry said.