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FLINT, MI -- A new $78 million cancer center at McLaren-Flint could start seeing patients by the beginning of next year, officials said.
A ribbon cutting held Wednesday, July 17, for what McLaren officials say will be a low-cost housing option for cancer patients is part of a major project that includes what will be a one-of-a-kind proton treatment center in the state.
McLaren-Flint's $70 million Proton Center is in the midst of undergoing approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is expected to open by the end of the year, said Laurie Prochazka, marketing and communications director for McLaren-Flint.
The center, located next to the McLaren Cancer Institute at 4100 Beecher Road, will be the first of its kind in Michigan and 11th in the nation. There are only 34 in the entire world.
Proton therapy treatment is a form of external beam radiation that targets specific areas of the body, not going beyond the target, said Dr. Hesham Gayar, who is with the McLaren Cancer Institute.
Standard radiation treatment can damage healthy tissue surrounding the target areas, he said.
Patients also experienced reduced side effects and can also receive increased doses to cure cancers that wouldn't be possible with traditional radiation treatment, Gayar said.
The facility for the center is complete and the machine has been built and the amount of radiation it will produce has been measured, he said, adding that they are in the final stage of regulatory approval.
"It is a lengthy process and we are close to the end of it," he said. "We are submitting the final module of a long phase of submissions to the FDA and we're expecting the process to finalize within about 90 days after that there is some acceptance testing and detail technical work taking the equipment from the vendor and then we'll be able to start treating patients."
The very small number of proton centers in the country means patients will be traveling from several hours for five to nine weeks in a row for treatment, said said Donald C. Kooy, president and CEO of McLaren-Flint.
That is where the $8 million Hospitality House comes in.
The Hospitality House, located at 3170 Beecher Road, is to be a home away from home, providing a world-class experience that matches the world-class technology being offered by McLaren Health Care, Kooy said.
The ribbon cutting came one year to the day the groundbreaking was held for the 32-room, 38,000-square-foot facility.
So far, more than $5.9 million has been raised for the estimated $8 million price tag attached to the Hospitality House.
The facility comes with a large kitchen area that could fit multiple full-sized kitchens, providing a place for families to prepare meals. There is also a dining area, room for support groups and therapy programs.
There is also a non-denominational reflection room, library, exercise facility, laundry room and playroom.
The grounds feature a patio, outdoor walking trail and an RV park.
Central Michigan University students enrolled in the Marketing and Hospitality Department were involved with the design of the facility and will also assist in running it.
Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce CEO Tim Herman said McLaren has always been one of the leaders in providing high-quality care in state-of-the-art facilities.
"We want to make sure their stay here is like their home away from home as pleasant as possible so it's great the Hospitality House allows patients to experience the area through cultural and recreational activities," he said, adding it also opens the door for community partnerships between organizations and businesses to identify possible vendors and services for patients. "This is truly great news, not only for McLaren and its patients, but for Flint and Genesee County."
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