Siteman Cancer Center broke ground Tuesday on its fifth outpatient site. The $26.3-million, 37,000-square-foot facility will be located on the Northwest HealthCare campus of Christian Hospital in Florissant.
“This is the best medicine coming right here to north county,” said Rick Stevens, the president of Christian Hospital. “This is money being put back in the community right here.”
The new facility is a joint project of BJC HealthCare — which owns and operates Christian Hospital — and Washington University School of Medicine. It is expected to open in late 2019.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held under a huge tent on the future site of the Siteman Cancer Center at Interstate 270 and Graham Road. Doctors in white coats mingled with hospital staff, residents and cancer survivors in a festive atmosphere.
Sherill Jackson, a 26-year cancer survivor and president of the Breakfast Club — a community support group for families and individuals dealing with cancer — told the gathering that the new Siteman Center will improve access to treatment.
“Having the expertise of these doctors close to home removes some of the stress and reduces disparities,” she said. “Barriers such as transportation, parking and keeping appointments could be significantly reduced. It’s reassuring to know that you will receive the same excellent care without driving 15 miles away to the Barnes campus.”
Lee Fetter, BJC HealthCare group president, noted that Christian Hospital has served as an anchor for the community for more than 100 years.
“While health care is our primary role, we also believe it is vitally important to invest in the growth and future of this community,” Fetter said.
BJC supports neighborhood-wellness programs and provides education opportunities through school-based clinics and the BJC scholars program, according to Fetter. He introduced a new career initiative at the groundbreaking called the Tarlton-BJC Healthcare Resource Center.
“It will assist high-school students and others in the community in thinking beyond today to future career possibilities in the construction trades and in health care,” Fetter explained.
The resource center is located in a large trailer on the edge of the construction site where Tarlton will be building the new Siteman Center. Inside, there are iPads loaded with information about career options from patient care to carpentry.
Fetter said for BJC, it was “just as important to invest in this community career initiative as in the Siteman Cancer Center.”
Follow Melody on Twitter @melodybird