Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center’s elaborate, intentional design aesthetic enhances cancer care, treatment for entire region

Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center’s elaborate, intentional design aesthetic enhances cancer care, treatment for entire region
The new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center building opened for patients Sept. 4 and the public was invited to tour the newest addition to Northeast Florida’s high-quality medical offerings during an open house Sept. 15.
Keith Tickell, vice president of Strategic Assets – Real Estate and LeeAnn Mengel, administrator of Oncology Services at Baptist Health, answer questions during a tour of the new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer facility Aug. 31.

Keith Tickell, vice president of Strategic Assets – Real Estate and LeeAnn Mengel, administrator of Oncology Services at Baptist Health, answer questions during a tour of the new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer facility Aug. 31.

With great fanfare the new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center building, which serves as a gateway to San Marco from the north, is now open for business to serve cancer patients and their families.

Although the new cancer center first opened its doors to patients Sept. 4, approximately 1,000 community members were able to tour the shiny new facility when Baptist Health hosted a two-hour public open house, complete with food trucks, on Sept. 15.

It’s been three years since Baptist Health began partnering with MD Anderson Cancer Center of Houston, Texas, and just over two years since construction began on the new cancer facility located at 1301 Palm Avenue.   

And the new building does not disappoint.

The $184 million, 330,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art outpatient clinic is a marvel of glass, original fine art, indoor greenspace, and natural light. Reaching nine stories toward the skyline, it is one of the largest construction projects ever done in Jacksonville, said Keith Tickell, vice president of Strategic Assets – Real Estate at Baptist Health.

“Our board and our senior leadership team wanted to do something that was distinguished in this community. As we like to describe it, this is an extraordinary facility for an even better group of caregivers and clinicians,” he said.

Designed to offer a feeling of tranquility while promoting healing, the center will function as a hub for every facet of cancer care, including physician appointments, imaging, radiation and infusion therapy. The infusion venue on the ninth floor is especially impressive, because patients enjoy panoramic views of San Marco and the St. Johns River, while sitting in any of 38 infusion “pods,” which feature floor-to-ceiling windows.

Serving as a place for clinical appointments, the building also features the nation’s first cancer-specialized Walgreen’s pharmacy, and a Life Wellness Center – a retail shop that offers wellness services and specialty-care products geared toward cancer patients and survivors, such as mastectomy bra and prosthesis fittings, and complimentary head shaving in a private environment. There is also a café, which offers healthy food selections that are especially suited for cancer patients.

Also, within the new building are areas for spiritual support, counseling, nutrition, social services and art therapy, which are part of Baptist MD Anderson’s whole-person approach to cancer care, said Dr. Bill Putnam, medical director for Baptist MD Anderson.

“The opening of this facility gives patients in our community a special caring environment and enhanced access to the highly skilled multidisciplinary cancer care developed at MD Anderson in Houston. Our patients will not need to travel out of state,” he said.

A new 2,100-square-foot multidisciplinary conference center within the building will allow Baptist MD Anderson doctors to easily communicate with their colleagues in Houston as well as teleconference with others around the world, Putnam said. 

A third-floor glass walkway connects the new building to the Baptist Outpatient Center and the Hill Breast Center across San Marco Boulevard. A 600-car garage is attached to the new building, offering parking for patients and physicians only.

A new garden is installed Aug. 31 along San Marco Boulevard as part of the new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center.

A new garden is installed Aug. 31 along San Marco Boulevard as part of the new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center.

 

Also included on the new campus is Hope Park, an 8,000-square-foot public space, which, as a gift to the community from Baptist Health, lies on the south corner of San Marco Boulevard and Children’s Way. Park amenities include benches, 11 lily-like trellises for shade, and a magnificent sculpture entitled “And I Still Rise,” made from more than 300 carbon-fiber rods created by internationally acclaimed artist Konstantin Dimopoulos.

A cancer patient advisory group assisted in selecting the art, wall colors, and furniture for the center, said Tickell, noting that special electrostatic glass doors cloud over to ensure privacy at the flick of a switch in the 21 private infusion rooms on the ninth floor. Chemical-free linoleum makes up much of the flooring, he said. 

Works of art by more than 100 artists, the majority of which are from Northeast Florida, are strategically located on every floor of the facility, said Ryan Ali, director of development for Baptist MD Anderson.

Adorning the wall of the lobby is “Slices of the Sea,” a large colorful mural made of acrylic and powdered pigment on 30,000 glass microscope slides, which was donated by Baptist Health CEO and President Hugh Greene and his wife, Susan.

Other prominent works of art include “Flock of Wonder,” a swirl of hand silk-screened paper and aluminum butterflies created by local artist Sarah Crooks with community engagement; “Transition,” a large sculpture at the front entrance created by Bradenton artist Linda Howard that captures the transformative experience of the cancer journey while conveying a feeling of hope; and “The Circle,” a sculpture created by Colorado artist Frank Swanson, which was given by Kimberly and Richard Sisisky in memory of The Honorable Norman Sisisky and Terry R. Sisisky. Made from a solid block of red granite, the sculpture is cut in a way to symbolize people embracing, helping, and supporting one another as a caring community.

“Every single room from the first floor to the ninth has many pieces of unique art, and most are from local artists,” Ali said. “This is more than just a pretty building. It’s a building with purpose that also shows the intensity of the care going on here. To build a building like this is in Baptist’s DNA. We weren’t about creating a building to blend in with the landscape. Baptist wanted an iconic cancer center, and as important as the exterior of the building is, also is the interior, and the work we are doing with patients. We use the word ‘transformative’ cancer care, and it really is, down to the attention given to every single detail and the technology in every single room.”

Greene agreed. “Everything about Baptist MD Anderson is thoughtful and intentional,” he said. “We’ve created a cancer-care destination for patients in Jacksonville, the Southeast, and beyond that combines cutting-
edge treatment with compassionate care.” 


By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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