Henry Ford Health System plans $110M cancer center

The Detroit News

Detroit — Henry Ford Health System plans to transform the neighborhood south of its Detroit flagship hospital by building a $110 million cancer center there as part of a $500 million expansion, officials said Monday.

The five-story center will be an integrated facility where patients can more comfortably and conveniently get all of their cancer care under one roof and be a destination for treating the disease within the health system, said Henry Ford Hospital President and CEO John Popovich Jr.

The 144,000-square-foot facility will be connected to Henry Ford Hospital by a skywalk, have a rooftop garden and will open in summer 2018.

“What we’re really excited about is the opportunity to create a facility that really is able to fully integrate cancer care as well as support the emotional travails that many cancer patients go through,” Popovich said.

“What Henry Ford Hospital offers that others do not is the opportunity for destination services — the ability to have the level of expertise that cannot be available in every community medical setting,” he added.

Metro Detroit’s second largest health system said it is constructing the specialized center because patient demand for cancer care is growing, and Henry Ford gets 5,500 new patients a year at its four hospitals and four outpatient facilities where cancer is treated.

Henry Ford Health said its outpatient services for cancer rose 16 percent, while inpatient services increased 31 percent in the past eight years.

The cancer center, which will include extended weekday and weekend hours, is part of an expansion project located on 300 acres north of Interstate 94 but south of West Grand Boulevard where Henry Ford Hospital is located. Other care facilities will eventually will be built on the 30 acres or 10 percent of the area where the health system plans to invest, Popovich said.

“Clinical destination care will be the future focus of what we develop there,” he said, adding that it could include medical research and education.

“...The cancer facility … is really the start,” Popovich said. “And we would be looking at other components that support not only cancer care but our ambulatory (outpatient)environment.”

The move is expected to help position the health system to compete in research that will take place in precision medicine, which will actively search for the genetic underpinnings of cancer. The first clinical trials in President Barack Obama's national Precision Medicine Initiative were launched in January to dramatically speed up the search for cures that attack cancer at the cellular level. The study provides information about cancer that can be discovered only at the cellular level, experts said.

The National Cancer Institute's Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice program, or NCI-MATCH, was announced in June at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting in Chicago. Beaumont Health, Henry Ford Health System, University of Michigan Health System and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute were among the more than 2,000 institutions nationwide planning to participate.

Henry Ford’s South Campus expansion also envisions the construction of commercial, retail and housing as well as creating green space in the 300-acre area during the next 10 to 15 years.

“We’re very excited about Henry Ford’s commitment to this new project in Detroit,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. “It’s not only paved the way for new development in the city, but eliminated blight by demolishing 100 vacant structures throughout the 300-acre neighborhood.”

The health system wants create to “an area south of the boulevard that is authentic and place-making,” Popovich said.

Henry Ford Health also has promoted related development in the area with the opening this summer of the $30 million Cardinal Health Distribution Center with 100 employees. The health system said it helped with planning work such as getting city approvals.

Other features of the planned cancer center include space where patients can talk to research nurses about clinical trial opportunities; more integration of research programs; exercise, fitness and nutrition planning; and radiation oncology, medical oncology and surgical services on the same floor.

Groundbreaking on the cancer center is planned for this spring.