Saint Marys Seeks OK For Cancer Center
GRAND RAPIDS – Cost effectiveness is one of the key questions a regional health care planning agency has with Saint Mary’s Mercy Medical Center’s proposed $37 million new cancer treatment center in Grand Rapids.
Saint Mary’s this month initiated the formal regulatory review of the project by filing a certificate of need application to the Michigan Department of Community Health.
The Alliance for Health, which will review the project and recommend to the state whether to issue a CON, expects to hold a public hearing on Saint Mary’s proposal within a month, President Lodewyk Zwarensteyn said. The in-depth analysis will zero in on how the project will affect the cost of caring for cancer patients and whether consolidating services in one location will produce cost efficiencies, Zwarensteyn said.
“If it escalates the cost, then that’s something that will be a real problem,” Zwarensteyn said. “We want to see efficiencies as a result of such a move.”
Saint Mary’s envisions a facility that will integrate medical services for cancer patients that are now spread throughout the area under one roof.
The Richard J. Lacks Sr., Cancer Center, planned as an addition to the hospital, is designed “to provide our community and West Michigan with one comprehensive treatment environment where the medical and healing community will be able to congregate around the patient in an effort to provide the very best cancer care,” Saint Mary’s stated in its CON application.
“The inclusiveness of the Cancer Center eliminates the necessity an inconvenience of traveling office to office, facility to facility in order to get the care one needs for cancer treatment,” the CON application states.
The financial efficiencies of consolidating cancer treatments at a single location is hard to gauge right now and should become clear as Saint Mary’s completes the design phase over the next year to 18 months, President and CEO Philip McCorkle said.
Far easier to judge than the financial aspects is an improvement in the quality of care for cancer patients, McCorkle said.
“It’s going to better serve the needs of the community at a different level,” he said.
The center will enable Saint Mary’s to further mold its mission of healing the “mind, body and spirit” into cancer treatments by providing services that takes into account a person’s emotional and psychological well-being and their needs at home.
Another concern the project raises for Zwarensteyn is whether the center will drive other hospitals in the area to propose spending millions to develop their own similar facilities, resulting in a duplication of services that are costly to provide.
“We would hope, by virtue of one hospital having everything under on roof, that it wouldn’t be a perceived by other facilities as a call to do the same thing,” he said. “We do not need a lot of ‘me, too-isms’ in health care.”
Saint Mary’s is paying for the cancer center with contributions that so far include a $10 million donation from the family of the late Richard J. Lacks Sr.
The Lacks family’s donation was given as a challenge gift, with Saint Mary’s matching it with $20 million in additional contributions. To date, Saint Mary’s has secured about $15.5 million in contributions beyond the Lacks family donation. That includes a $5 million contribution from the Wege Foundation.