By Mark Sanchez
GRAND RAPIDS — The successful campaign to build a new cancer hospital represents just the beginning for Saint Mary’s Mercy Medical Center.
After raising more than $42 million toward the Richard J. Lacks Sr. Cancer Center that’s now under construction and scheduled to open next year, Saint Mary’s Mercy Medical Center is gearing up for another campaign designed to generate donations to sustain the facility.
Future equipment and other capital needs will require Saint Mary’s to generate “sizable” contributions annually to maintain the new facility as a “world-class cancer center,” said Micki Benz, vice president for development at Saint Mary’s.
“This is just the beginning,” Benz said. “There’s an ongoing need. But we’ve made a wonderful, wonderful beginning.”
The next phase of fund raising on behalf of the Lacks Cancer Center remains in its formative stages, Benz said.
For now, Saint Mary’s administrators and benefactors are thrilled with the $42.08 million raised since 1999 to build and equip the center, which will consolidate into one location many of the medical services cancer patients require, as well as offer services designed to support a cancer patient’s and the family’s emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being and better coordinate care between varying disciplines. The center is scheduled for occupancy by the fall of 2004.
Saint Mary’s financed the project completely through philanthropy, the success of which “makes a statement that the community believes in what we’re doing,” Saint Mary’s Mercy Medical Center CEO Phil McCorkle said.
The capital campaign, led by a cabinet of about two-dozen people and hundreds of volunteers, generated 2,723 separate donations that ranged from the Lacks family’s initial gift of $10 million and two pledges by the Wege Foundation totaling $15 million, to “numerous” $5 and $10 contributions.
Many contributions came from individuals who gave in memory of a friend or loved one affected by cancer, Benz said. Such was the case recently when a man came into the hospital and dropped off a $12,000 donation in honor of a friend who died from cancer and received treatment at Saint Mary’s.
“We have a very generous community and we have a strong need,” Benz said. “It became a community effort because we all know we need this.”
Saint Mary’s expects to treat 1,100 cancer patients on an inpatient basis in the fiscal year that ends June 30. By FY2005, the inpatient treatment will inch up to 1,335 and grow to 2,070 by 2009, Saint Mary’s projects.
Outpatient care for cancer will reach 17,400 patients in FY2003 and 21,000 during the Lacks Cancer Center’s first year, and then grow to a projected 30,700 patients by 2009.