The construction of the University of Puerto Rico’s Comprehensive Cancer Center Hospital is nearing the home stretch, with more than 85 percent of it already completed and a target end date of October.
The Cancer Center is expected to begin receiving patients before year’s end, hospital officials said Wednesday.
“Undoubtedly, the construction of this hospital will be one of the most significant projects that Puerto Rico has seen in decades,” said Luis Clavell, the Cancer Center’s interim executive director.
“One in three people in Puerto Rico have been diagnosed with some form of cancer — we need all the tools at our disposal to change these figures around,” he said.
The 10-floor hospital will have a sole focus on cancer patients and will work hand-in-hand with the Research and Radiotherapy centers, which already form part of the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The almost 300,000 square-foot facilities will boast eight specialized surgery wards — including MRI and Interventional Radiology — an infusion center for chemotherapy treatments, a nuclear medicine ward, specialized pharmacy, and beds for regular and intensive care treatments.
In addition, one of the 10 floors will be home to the multidisciplinary clinic, where a team of physicians of diverse areas of specialization will be available to diagnose and/or treat patients on site in line with their clinical profile.
“All the services a cancer patient may need — from oncology to radiotherapy, hematology, chemotherapy, and surgery — will be available in one place, without the need for patients to drive from office to office,” said Robert Hunter-Mellado, medical director of the Cancer Center.
“Every moment counts when a patient is battling this disease. The new hospital will allow us to shorten the time between diagnoses and treatment,” he said.
The first phase of recruiting for the new hospital will start this month, including for some 20 directive positions in areas ranging from nursing to administration. It is estimated that at the peak of its operations, the hospital will generate close to 400 jobs.
“Part of our mission at the Center is to recruit the best talent available and promote their development,” Clavell added. “With the new hospital we hope to foster a collaborative environment that will encourage local talent to put their skills to work in the island and encourage collaborations with other top professionals and institutions at a local and international level.”
In line with the fiscal reality being faced by the government of Puerto Rico, the Cancer Center is making the necessary budgetary adjustments to see the hospital’s construction to the finish line and guarantee the needed resources for its operation, officials said.
The Cancer Center’s legislature-approved budget for fiscal year 2016-017 includes $67 million for the remaining construction and operations for the hospital that is expected to be self-sufficient three years after it gets going.