Gift Accelerates Spectrums Cancer Center

May 7, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — A $6.25 million gift from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation will enable Spectrum Health to speed up planning for a new outpatient cancer-treatment center across the street from the health system's Butterworth Campus in downtown Grand Rapids.

The donation will cover Spectrum's cost to acquire the Burger King fast-food restaurant on Michigan Avenue for an outpatient facility to support the Spectrum Health Cancer Center. The new facility will consolidate outpatient cancer services now housed at the Butterworth Campus and Spectrum's Blodgett Campus in East Grand Rapids, furthering the health system's long-range plan to move major clinical services into a single location downtown.

Spectrum will immediately begin an 18-month planning process for the new outpatient cancer center, President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Breon said. There's no timetable now for when construction may begin, although Breon expects now that with a location identified, it will occur before the original target of 2007 that was outlined in a long-range facility plan issued last fall.

"It really helps solidify our planning. It's very beneficial and it's very generous," Breon said of the DeVos Foundation gift. "We think (planning) will be accelerated by this."

Securing the Burger King property also provides Spectrum the land it needs to solidify plans for the eventual development of a new children's hospital at Michigan and Bostwick Avenue to replace DeVos Children's Hospital, Breon said.

Spectrum presently controls about two-thirds of the market share in the treatment of new cancer patients.

The new outpatient center will help the health system elevate both its cancer treatment and DeVos Children's Hospital "to a national level." Preliminary cost estimates have pegged the price of a new outpatient cancer center at $35 million to $40 million.

The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation offered the gift to allow Spectrum to make progress on its long-term plans.

"This organization has always been progressive and proactive in meeting the needs of our community. We are happy to be able to help Spectrum Health advance its plans for patient care and the care of the children in this growing region," the DeVoses said in a statement.

Spectrum has had its eyes on the Burger King parcel for years, although there was no specific use identified for it until recently, Breon said. Discussions with the DeVoses led Spectrum to pursue the property for the outpatient cancer center, he said.

"It was just a piece of property that made sense," Breon said. "We feel this is the best use of that space."           

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