A rendering of the new outpatient center for cancer patients is to the right of the main AdventHealth Wesley Chapel hospital (while the existing AHWC Wellness Plaza is to the left). (Rendering courtesy of AdventHealth Wesley Chapel)

Plans to expand the services at AdventHealth Wesley Chapel (AHWC) have been in the works for more than a year, but for hospital president and CEO Denyse Bales-Chubb, the most important thing was finding the right partner.

She is convinced the hospital has done just that.

On May 21, AHWC and the Moffitt Cancer Center officially broke ground on a new outpatient center to serve cancer patients as part of a new medical office building on the AHWC campus.

The new medical office will be the bookend on the south side of the hospital along Bruce B. Downs Blvd., with the similarily-sized, existing Wellness Plaza  on the north side.

AHWC president and CEO Denyse Bales-Chubb

“We believe that the community here in Wesley Chapel is in need of having some cancer specialists they would be able to access, so it was natural we would go and talk to Moffitt,” Bales-Chubb said at the packed groundbreaking event. “They have the expertise, the awards and the skills we are looking for in our community.”

According to Bales-Chubb, the second medical office on the hospital’s campus also is necessary because the first one is full and cannot add anymore physicians. One of the pressing needs AHWC was looking to fill was cancer treatment. “It’s a natural fit,” she said.

The groundbreaking for the three-story, 100,000-sq.-ft. medical building was attended by more than 100 community members, local leaders and officials from AHWC and Moffitt. It was heralded as a breakthrough moment for medical service in Pasco County.

Nearly a third of that space will be used for the cancer outpatient center. AHWC’s own spine institute, which has outgrown its current space in the Wellness Plaza, also is moving the services moving into the new building.

A close-up artist’s rendering of the new medical building at AdventHealth Wesley Chapel.

The rest of the space will be used for other services and Bales-Chubb hinted that more partnerships could be on the way.

“The best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered and, in order that the sick may have the benefit of advancing knowledge, a union of forces is necessary,” said Dominic Sarafin, the vice president of strategic alliances and network for Moffitt, quoting something Dr. William J. Mayo, M.D. (founder of the original Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN) said in 1910. “It is a sentiment we share today.”

The outpatient center will offer medical and radiation oncology services and will be designed to accommodate oncologists to deliver chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy to patients, said Dr. Lewis Harrison, chair & senior member of radiation oncology at the Moffitt Cancer Center.

Dr. Harrison also said the center at AHWC will have 20 examination rooms, 22 infusion suites and will accommodate two linear accelerators —which customizes the radiation treatment to focus on the tumor or cancer cells without damaging surrounding tissue — for radiation therapy services.

Full-length glass will provide patients the opportunity to look outside and see trees and nature, contributing to the overall patient experience.

The new $44-million facility also will offer cancer screenings and survivorship programs for post-treatment patients.

The building is expected to be completed by the fall of 2020.

A Little History…

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer & Research Institute was founded as the state’s cancer center when it opened on the campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa in 1986. As one of only 50 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, Moffitt has gained national acclaim over the years for its research and patient care.

“The mission has remained the same — to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer,” said Sarafin. “It drives everything and everyone at Moffitt. As the state grows and ages, the ACA estimates more than 130,000 (Floridians)…. will learn they have cancer this year. We are joining with AdventHealth, in the hopes that this project will make a difference in their lives.”

Bales-Chubb also noted that it is a big step for Moffitt to be able to bring its renowned cancer treatments and access to clinical trials closer to patients in our area who need it. 

“To me, it says they want to make sure they are taking care of the community,” she said. “Instead of just saying you come to us, it’s more of we are going to come to you…we want to bring our services to you, where you live and where you work.”

AHWC, formerly Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, opened in 2012 as Wesley Chapel’s first hospital, and in 2016, doubled its emergency department from 18 to 35 rooms and went from 83 private patient rooms to 143 while adding three floors and 111,993 sq. ft. of new space during a $78-million expansion.

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