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Children's Hospital Creating Center For Cancer And Blood Disorders

CCMC Hits Fundraising Target To Double Hematology/Oncology Program

William Weir

June 20, 2011

When the Connecticut Children's Medical Center opened in 1996, the facilities for its cancer and blood disorders program seemed more than adequate.

"At that time it seemed like a lot of space, and it was good space for the first five years it was ample," said Dr. J. Nathan Hagstrom, head of the hospital's hematology/oncology division. "And then we started to grow, and we started to see almost twice as many patients as we did before."

On Monday, CCMC officials announced that they had reached the $5 million fundraising goal to pay for the construction of a new Clinical Care Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, which will double the hospital's current space for its oncology and hematology program. Construction began last month, and Hagstrom said the center will move into the new space by September or October.

There was a five-month delay in construction because hospital officials needed to find space to move its administrative offices, CCMC spokesman Christopher Boyle said.

The current Clinical Care Center, which is on the hospital's second floor, will move to the fifth floor. The project will increase the center's clinical space from 4,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet, add four more exam rooms to its current three and add an on-site blood laboratory. It also will add four private day-treatment rooms.

There were close to 12,000 outpatient visits in 2009 at CCMC, double the number from 1999. Hagstrom said one reason for the increase is that as word got out about CCMC, it started to receive more referrals. Families that had gone out of state for pediatric cancer treatment started coming to CCMC. When the sickle cell clinic at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center moved to CCMC, that created another influx of patients.

And with advances in treatment, Hagstrom said, more cancer patients are living longer. Physicians will treat patients well into their 20s and 30s who were treated at CCMC as children.

When the center moved in 1996 from the University of Connecticut to its current location next to Hartford Hospital, CCMC had four physicians and no nurse practitioners. Now it has eight physicians and several nurse practitioners. So it's cramped, Hagstrom said. And there's not much room for computers, which have become increasingly important to health care.

The current space, he said, is "ineffective for staff and inconvenient for families."

"It's very loud, and it's not very conducive to private conversations," he said. "You're on the phone with a family and right next to you is another family."

Hagstrom said reaching the $5 million mark is all the more gratifying since fundraising began at an inauspicious time.

"When we started the campaign about two years ago, the economy had just gone through its big hit," he said. "In the midst of the recession, there were some of us who doubted that we'd be able to do this in such challenging economic times. We're certainly happy and pleasantly surprised that we did."

Martha Schall, president of the CCMC Foundation, attributed the success in part to a series of events, including a team of 150 people who raised money in the Hartford Marathon. Most were either parents of children treated at the center or CCMC staff.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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