The Comprehensive Cancer Center Hospital at the University of Puerto Rico will receive its first patients this February, three years after the start of its construction, executives confirmed during a walk-through of the facility on Thursday.
“This is an unprecedented development in Puerto Rico. Everything you see here was designed with cancer patients in mind,” said Luis Clavell, executive director of the state-of-the-art facility.
“From the configuration of the treatment rooms to the design of the rooms, everything is aimed at achieving a better experience for patients who go through this disease,” he said.
With an investment of about $175 million, the 300,000 square-foot facility houses eight specialized surgery rooms, an infusion center with 26 slots for chemotherapy treatments, an imaging center with nuclear medicine, a specialty pharmacy, a clinical and pathological laboratory.
The hospital has 96 beds — 12 of which are for intensive care and are authorized to treat bone marrow transplant patients and have the necessary protocols to safeguard the patient’s immune system.
In addition, the hospital has a multidisciplinary clinic where patients can be evaluated by several specialists — oncologists, surgeons, researchers, radiation oncologists, nurses and others — to have the necessary tests done for diagnosis and treatment.
“These multidisciplinary clinics are the ‘heart’ of the hospital,” said Robert Hunter-Mellado, medical director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Basically, in a matter of days, our patients have a preliminary diagnosis and are ready to start treatment. When it comes to cancer, every minute counts.”
The Hospital will offer a number of services focused on cancer patients and their welfare. Among these are diet services, which will include room service 24/7 to address specific nutritional needs for cancer patients during treatment. In addition, the hospital will have the first and only oncologic emergency room in Puerto Rico with care available to patients 24 hours a day.
“Most cancer patients are treated on an outpatient basis, but the side effects of treatments can cause emergency visits,” said Clavell.
The hospital has recruited about 70 doctors and staff, and that number is expected to exceed 100 by the time the hospital opens in February, officials said.
The vision of the hospital is to become the hub for cancer research in Puerto Rico and serve as an anchor and partner to the network of hospitals, organizations and health professionals already working to address cancer, both on the island and globally.
Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla was on hand for the walk-through, calling the hospital his administration’s “flagship project.”
“Puerto Rico today takes an important step on the way toward a more sustainable, and diverse economy that is tied to the global economy. An economy in which knowledge, science and technology have a leading role” García-Padilla said.
“Today, we’re inaugurating much more than a building. It is one of the most important developments Puerto Rico has seen in decades. We welcome the most important scientific research and clinical treatment project in our history,” he said.