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NC Legislature approves funding for new cancer hospital at UNC

by Mary Ruth last modified Mar 28, 2011 01:51 PM

At the celebration party held on Monday, July 19, Dean Roper thanked the NC Legislature and all the others involved in getting the NC Cancer Hospital funding approved by the Legislature. The N.C. General Assembly approved $180 million in funding for a new cancer hospital to be built by the University of North Carolina Health Care System.

The funding, approved Sunday, July 18, allows UNC Health Care to speed up the planning that has already been under way for the new N. C. Cancer Hospital, which will replace an aging cancer treatment facility originally built in the 1950s as a tuberculosis sanatorium. The new hospital will also serve as the clinical home for the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only 38 such National Cancer Institute-designated centers in the United States.

"On behalf of UNC Health Care, I want to express our gratitude to the North Carolina General Assembly, especially House Speakers Richard Morgan and Jim Black, Representative Joe Hackney, Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight and Senator Tony Rand, " said Dr. William L. Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine and chief executive officer of the UNC Health Care System.

"Their leadership with their colleagues in funding the new North Carolina Cancer Hospital, is truly historic. The $180 million investment will be money well spent. It will make a tremendous positive impact on the lives of many of our state’s one-quarter million cancer patients," Roper said.

The new seven-story hospital will be built in front of the existing N.C. Neurosciences Hospital, just to the east of the building it is to replace, the N.C. Clinical Cancer Center (also known as the Gravely Building). The construction project also will include a physician office building on the other side of Manning Drive, next to the Dogwood Parking Deck.

"The new N.C. Cancer Hospital will not only create the physical space to expand and enhance patient care, it will also create an even higher quality of care by integrating the latest advances in science with highly skilled physicians and other health-care providers," said Dr Shelley Earp, director of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Several factors created the need for a new cancer hospital at UNC, according to Dr. Richard Goldberg, associate director of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of Oncology Services for UNC Health Care. The number of patients coming to UNC for cancer care has increased 35 percent in the last six years. That number is expected to nearly double over the next 30 years due to the aging of the population. The existing cancer treatment facility is an aging building that has already been extensively renovated. Additional renovations would not be able to accommodate the expected increase in the number of patients or the latest advances in medical equipment and technology.

The new N.C. Cancer Hospital will boost the North Carolina economy by increasing UNC’s research funding for prevention and control and clinical research. The new facility will increase UNC’s capabilities to serve as a test site for novel cancer therapies and prevention studies, attracting increased funding from government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and industry, such as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

The new hospital should result in positive economic ramifications, according to UNC Health Care research and an independent study.

The model of the new cancer hospital attracted much attention. Here, Dean Roper, UNC President Molly Broad and UNC- Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser discuss it.

Conservative estimates anticipate that the new hospital could generate $26 million a year in additional research funding, providing jobs for 240 new full-time employees and 25 new clinical faculty who spend about half their time conducting research.

UNC Health Care commissioned Tripp Umbach Healthcare Consulting Inc. of Pittsburgh, the nation’s leading provider of economic impact analysis for academic medical centers, to conduct a study of the cancer hospital’s economic impact. Last month, the consultants reported that the new North Carolina Cancer Hospital would bring about substantial new economic and social benefits to the state. The study found that cancer services at UNC currently have an economic impact of $251 million. By the time the new hospital opens in 2010, this impact should grow to $405 million—a $154 million increase.

View more photos from the event.

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