Southeast Missouri to get new cancer, heart disease care

Sunday, February 17, 2008 | 7:00 p.m. CST; updated 7:09 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Saint Francis Medical Center plans to begin work this spring on an $84 million center for cancer and heart disease in southeast Missouri.

Hospital officials say the new, 180,000-square-foot facility will expand and consolidate services, so patients who need treatment for cancer or heart disease will receive improved and more convenient care. The center is expected to open by fall 2011.

“We have been dreaming about this for a long time,” said Harry Rediger, immediate past chairman of the Saint Francis Healthcare System Board of Directors.

The board approved the plans Thursday. The hospital will raise money for the project through a bond issue and from hospital reserves, said President and Chief Executive Officer Steven Bjelich.

The construction of the Heart Hospital and Cancer Institute is expected to result in about 70 new hospital jobs and should draw more top medical professionals to practice in the region, hospital officials said.

Saint Francis will add 10 cardiac intensive-care beds to its current 258 patient beds as part of the new center, Bjelich said. The new center will also include room for four cardiac catheterization labs. Cardiac catheterization is the state-of-the-art treatment for heart attacks.

It will have space for three linear accelerators for cancer radiation treatment. The hospital has one linear accelerator now and plans to install a second one when the new facility opens.

Hospital officials say the new center will keep patients from having to travel to St. Louis or Memphis, Tenn., for many aspects of cancer or heart disease treatment. But certain complex procedures, like bone marrow transplants, are not expected to be done on site, they said.

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