The new AIS Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital is just weeks away from opening its doors to patients. The center was dedicated to the community over the weekend with a special light show.
It has been nearly 18 months since ground was broken on the $36 million facility. It will be the first hospital-based cancer center in Bakersfield. While the center at San Joaquin Community Hospital was wowing the public during its dedication from the outside, Cancer Center Director, Lori Muir, says the inside of the new facility will have the community celebrating.
"I've never seen a community say, not only do we need more cancer care here, but we deserve it," said Muir.
$6 million of the $36 million it took to build the center was from community donations. Muir says the idea was to make the center welcoming. A two-story waterfall greets patients. The facility is made up of the best things they found at other cancer treatment facilities across the country and from community suggestions.
"They wanted comfort, safety, security. They said the sound of running water. There's nothing like it, the warm colors and the trees," said Muir.
Many of those suggestions came from the late Wendy Wayne, who brought her personal experiences with battling cancer and offered developers ideas. She now has a resource center at the facility named after her. And, Wayne also wanted color and a setting simulator in treatment rooms. Patients can choose their surroundings with a touch.
"The patient, having a choice and some control, has shown it decreases anxiety, pain, and increases compliance," said Muir.
Instead of just curtains, there are bamboo screens in between the 15 chemo treatment bays. And, they have radiation machines that cut down therapy time and can get within a millimeter of accuracy.
"We can accommodate for people's breathing. So, imagine when you breathe, the tumor might move. So the machine turns off. And, when you exhale and the tumor recedes back where it was, and it turns back on," said Muir.
Muir says the AIS Cancer Center should be ready to accept its first patients in February 2013.